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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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.


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 900 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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1,402 Replies to “How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream (or Lose 10 Pounds in 14 Days)”

  1. This is a reply for Vik:

    He writes: “As a corollary, how does this paleo research fit in with Asian and Indian diets that are very high in rice/legumes and have a very low percentage of the health ailments that are indicative of high protein western diets?…”

    I wish you were more specific about the health ailments that Asian/Indians do not have but I actually live in India (for 3 years now) and these are my observations. Indians often develop a very large gut as they get older, and the rates of obesity are quite high. The exception to this would be the laborers, villagers, and truly poor who just eat far fewer calories, but who are not opposed to getting cheap protein in whatever animal form it might appear (you don’t want to know). Rates of diabetes in India are VERY high and as income levels go up the consumption of carbohydrates and sugars increases significantly. There are many obese vegetarians here. I don’t have any scientific evidence I can quote (though I know that studies have been done) just my observations. You should also be aware that while rice is consumed quite a lot here, it is always combined with large quantities of vegetables and meats. This applies to most of Asia.

  2. According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, millet is gluten free. Oats used to be off limits for all people with celiac. From the CDC site on the subject of oats “regular, commercially available oats are frequently contaminated with wheat or barley. However, ‘pure, uncontaminated’ oats have recently become available from several companies in the US and Canada. These companies’ process oats in dedicated facilities and their oats are tested for purity. Pure, uncontaminated oats can be consumed safely in quantities < 1 cup per day."

    Be nice to see links and annotations to substantiate your claims.

  3. @Rita

    You might want to consider the possibility of a parasite, new research has shown they are often the cause of the late onset allergies and other symptoms you are describing. Just another thought in case the grain-free doesn’t work out.

  4. Hey Tim,

    I’m following (i think) your low-carb diet but now after reading this I think I might be doing something I’m not suposed to. Maybe I’m having too much beans, I don’t know.

    Breakfast: 2 Eggs + Tee;

    Lunch and dinner: 100g Beef with 100g canned kidney beans + Tee;

    Glass of wine before sleep.

    Thats every day (except cheating day). Should I change I little bit so I don’t end up eating so much beans?

    Thanks for all your help!

    1. Hi Juan,

      If you want to go strict Paleo, you would remove the beans. I think you’re fine. Just supplement with some potassium and magnesium to be on the safe side.

      Good luck!


  5. Hi, I’m just wondering how this diet works for people who have a fructose intolerance and are limited in what fruits and vegies they can eat?

  6. Tim,

    I do not know if I am ready to swallow even half of the sensationalist claims that Robb Wolf makes in this. My personal experience tells me that the effects of can Gluten vary widely depending on the genetic makeup of the person. Also, This flies in the face of what your (Health/Food scientific expert) friend Darya Pino preaches on her blog: SummerTomato, her specific post on the issues of grains is here: summertomato[dot]com/weekday-breakfast-cereal-and-fruit/ You should read that, and follow up with her. If you 2 can come to a mutual agreement and both author a blog post together, on this subject, it could be amazing.

    That being said, I am going to try and follow this diet for 60 days and will get back to you.

  7. Tim, do you still follow/recommend the bedtime snack of low-fat yogurt per your “relax like a pro” post? (I understand this info from Robb is just another guest post, but I was still curious because yogurt has great nutritional benefits)

  8. Tim, after seeing the experience of many people around me and after reading the China study, which I know it’s full of hype but it’s still something difficult to ignore, the diet plan looks suspicious to me. There’s too much meat in there for me to even considering it. What’s your take on that? Do you recommend eating that much meat?

    1. Hi Oscar,

      I think it really depends on your sources. Eating factory-farmed stuff is definitely a good way to race to the grave.

      I’ll be putting up an extensive critique of the China Study (the book, not the original monograph) within the next few months. The short answer is, if you get your meat from good sources, ideally local or nearby, I don’t see much of an issue with it. Then again, you’re talking to someone who lives in SF, so I’m very advantaged with food access.

      Good luck, man. My basic approach: take before-and-after blood tests (30 days and 60 days later) and see what actually happens. The research papers hold up surprisingly infrequently on a person-by-person basis.

      Test smart and track yourself and you’ll be just fine.



  9. I had heard about this Paleo diet, but I thought, what could make it any better than the Atkins’ or South Beach (i.e. other fad diets). I have to sincerely thank you for sharing that information here. I am printing out the article to show my dad who it I step away from diabetes. This is truly life-altering information.

  10. That’s really interesting, thanks. The main thing putting me off this diet is the surreal amount of meat (fish, chicken, animal products) that is suggested in the meal plans. Eating meat 3-4- times a day is not healthy; it certainly might result to some short term weight loss but it’s just not sustainable in the modern age – not for your body and not for the planet.

  11. Tim, I can’t wait until your new book comes out bro!

    As for the Paelo diet, I tried this for 1 month while training MMA and Muay Thai in Thailand (thanks to the 4-hour workweek!) I felt like I had more energy, I lost tons of weight, my muscles were tight and I looked and felt great.

    I’m planning on getting back into the lots of veggies, meat, eggs, and fat diet with zero carbs next week when I go to Thailand again to train for 3 months this time.

    P.S. My Brazillian Jiu-Jitusu instructor, Nicolas from Roger Gracie Sydney has been on the Paelo diet for a few years now and he’s in the best shape out of any guy i’ve ever seen in person.

  12. OK, grains are bad, nuts are OK (if I understand it right). But what about seeds? Can I eat sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc? Or will those kill me too?

  13. @americans, @tim you already eat enough meat without boosting it to 4 times a day!

    The ultimate diet rule should be: if you dont need it, dont eat it. And you don’t need meat at all. Not even bears which are much more “evolved as carnivores” eat mostly plant food to put on their massive bulk. (polar bears excluded). And look at panda bear canines!

    The human GIT is adaptable to a variety of diets – we can eat pretty much anything and get by, but it is blatently irresposible to promote this much meat consumption considering the price to the environment

  14. But rice has been the staple diet for millions of Asians for thousands of years.

    I live in Singapore and I just took a walk outside for lunch to look for food at a coffeeshop. Every single person’s plate was filled with rice or noodles and

    topped with veggies and meat; old people, young people, everyone.

    Are they all gonna die a horrible death?

    That said, I do find that rice makes me tummy feel queasy. I’m going to try the food plan for a month and report the findings!

    1. If you must eat grains small beer is probably the best choice, it’s fermented after all, but beer is very carby.

  15. Fascinating information, thanks.

    I’m curious though, does this also hold true for ancient wheat-breeds (spelt, for instance) made into sourdough bread, i.e. dough that has fermented for 24 hours or more before baking?

    The way I understand it, fermenting changes the whole molecular structure of any foodstuff, and makes it much more suitable for human digestion.

    Also I believe modern wheat-breeds (developed with industrial processing, not health, in mind) have far more aggressive proteins than the old breeds.

  16. Interesting post on a subject that more people need to be informed about. I’ve got a friend who’s family is Italian and eats LOADS of pasta and gluten. Unfortunately, this friend suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and his older brother (25) recently had part of his intestinal tract removed in order to treat his symptoms.

    I’m sure Tim will talk about protein in his upcoming book, but for people wondering where vegetarians and vegans get their protein (especially if they cut out gluten sources or animal) please watch Tim Van Orden’s youtube video on the “Protein Myth” for a brief on the topic. Tim is a National Champion trail runner, stair climber, and snow shoe runner. He is doing this all on a raw vegan diet. Please watch, learn, and be ignited to research on your own –

  17. @Matthew Bailey and Tim

    I’m not Tim but I think there is something true in it.

    Here is my story:

    I tried the approach very strict for almost 3 months.

    The result:

    Most of the time I felt like shit (honestly maybe 2 days of the time I felt good that was just at the morning to get up).

    Fatigued and sleepy most of the time, so I thought you have to up your fat intake but it didn’t work either.

    My mood was always aggressive, everyone just annoyed me.

    After two weeks or so I got heavy constipated meaning from 5 days up to 9 days I got no bowel movement (usually it was every day 1 or 2 times) and I ate enough vegs… and when I got some bowel movement my stool was very hard and little like from a rabbit and it took a long time and effort to get even that little shit out of me. Very unpleasant… one time I thought I will die such an ache of my stomach I’ve had never experienced in my life, the next bowel movement was so terrible…first hard stool and then I pissed my ass out, man… okay enough talking of bowel movements.

    I got fattier probably due to my fat intake, from about 11,5% bf to 15%.

    My sport stint fall in the basement and had to reduce it extremely I

    felt like an old man in slow motion, actually everything was in slow motion… even 10 stairs up felt like 1000 knee bends… unbelievable shit I tell you.

    My ratio @Paleo was 60-80%Fat/ 15-25% Protein/ up to 5-10% Carbs.

    My skin was unhealthy and got some blisters on my lips.

    My sleep was prolonged instead shortened.

    At the end where I had to abort this diet I got yellow eyeballs.

    Then I switched on a high carb diet in small steps of course and reduced the other macros of course and felt almost immediately better.

    And you know what? I am type A+ and I think there have to be something true in this blood type diet, red meat makes me feel bad and bloated.

    My ratio now is 65& carbs 15% protein and 10% fat and my diet consists of fruits, vegs, grains, fish, some eggs and some poultry.

    I know the arguments of the diet sounding pretty well, I too didn’t want to believe that after a month on the paleo diet my health went down, and forced myself to keep it up and to tell myself I didn’t adapt yet.

    I talked to many people and have done some research done myslef.

    Every guy with Type O I’ve talked do very well on high meat and fat/little carbs. And A+ just the opposite. But I don’t know how it looks with Type B and AB. So I’m pretty thankful that I am at least Type A+ and finally know what I have to eat 🙂

    An the argument that mankind couldn’t adapt in such a short time (10.000 years) to grains is not holeproof in my opinion.

    I mean what is the reason that there evolved different blood types? There have to be some connection with food and blood type.

    Maybe just As adapted (or at least tolerate grains much better) than Os.

    Look at the people of bulgaria, russia and so on they eat tons of grain products compared to animal products (except of milk products) and they have the lowest mortality.

    Or read the story of Mikkel Hindhede and there are many other similar stories.

    I don’t believe there is a diet for everyone, there are vegetarian types, protein types and mixed types. See metabolic typing for more information.



    1. Well, here’s my 2 cents. I’m A+ as well, did poorly on a vegetarian diet, and great on a paleo, mostly meat diet. I’m not a big fan of fruit at all, and only like a few veges. To me it was a huge relief to not feel like I had to eat fruits and veges, which I don’t much care for. If I have some now, it’s just because I have a taste for it, not because I feel that I HAVE to eat them. My ancestry is German, and although humans have consumed grains for 10k years, that’s only in the middle east. When the Roman Tacitus related the conquest of the Germanic tribes only 2k years ago, they were meat eaters, and he went on and on about their height, strength, health and vigor compared to the wheat eating Roman troops. But what can I say, if the diet didn’t work for you, it didn’t work for you. My bowels are fine, but I don’t think you have to go twice a day to feel good. I like not having all the flatulence I did when I was a vegetarian, and the foul smelling stools. I’ve lost weight on paleo, and gained a ton of weight being a vegetarian for two years. Feel better, sleep better, etc. I am curious if you are Japanese? The blood type diet thing seems to be big there. It doesn’t seem like there’s any scientific evidence for it. Oh, also, the long lived people of the caucases eat a great deal of animal flesh. The one constant the oldest people of the world share is low blood sugar and low insulin. If you can keep your blood sugar in check while still eating grains, great, but I know I sure can’t.

    2. My thought on blood types: you know if one of your parents is blood type 0 and the other parent is A, you will be A. But on closer inspection, you will have one 0 gene and one A gene =A0. The A gene is dominant so your official blood type will be A.

      If both of your parents have A, then you will have AA.

      My question: if you have A0 blood type, wouldn’t it be then better to eat mixed diet of A blood type and 0 blood type?

  18. HOLY CATS!

    I’m loading onto a plane going home (4am wake up, 1am if you consider my west coast circadian rhythm) so I’ll do my best. Couple things before I tackle specific questions and issues:

    1-I have quite a number of resources in the book, and I’ll list a number of scientific resources here. If you are sincere in this conversation, please at least read them.

    2-Just give it a shot! Out of any/all of this “paleo” orientation I’d put gluten avoidance at the top of the list. I recommend that folks jump in, give it a shot and see how they look, feel, perform. Do some blood work before and after. Do your biomarkers of health or disease go in a favorable, or unfavorable direction? I recommend the addition of LDL particle sizes, A1c, C-reactive protein and perhaps Leptin. All these are thoroughly explained in the book, I’ve also discussed them in my podcast.

    3-Most of the kick-back to these concepts seem to come from the vegetarian camp. I’d recommend reading “The Vegetarian Myth” for some perspective on issues like sustainability:

    So, two primary sources for research include work by Professor Loren Cordain:

    And Dr. Steffan Lindberg:

    Dr. Linberg’s research is particularly interesting in that he looks at the health consequences of a hunter-gatherer people, the Kitavans (notice the 100 year old male in the opening page photo on the “Our Research” page for the guy who referenced the supposed short life span of HG’s).

    The Kitavans, like all HG’s studied were largely free of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurological decline typical of western cultures.

    What is particularly interesting about the Kitavan’s is they saw a dramatic decrease in health upon the inclusion of grains to their diet’s. The proposed mechanism? Lectins found in grains which first damage the gut lining, then degrade insulin sensitivity:

    This was followed-up with a comparison of insulin resistant, type 2 diabetics who ate one of two ways. A grain based “Mediterranean diet” and a grain free paleo diet based on modern foods. The result? The Paleo Diet group completely reversed insulin resistant Type 2 diabetes while the grain based Mediterranean diet saw “no statistical change.”

    That is all largely observational (empirical) information but pretty damn compelling. In the book I detail the specific mechanisms behind insulin resistance and inflammation starting with an understanding of digestion and the hormonal consequences of various foods. In more clear terms, I build, from the round up, the pathophysiology of modern diseases such as cancer (breast, colon prostate…essentially endothelial derived cancers) heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity, neurodegeneration and infertility. If you have “issue” with the paleo concept then just forget about that and look at the science starting from the molecular level. You will still have no framework from which to assess things, but It’s outside my pay grade to fix that problem!

    Ah, and lest we forget, a great comparison of a transition from HG to agriculture. I detailed this in my book in chapter 2:

    Mark E-

    This is all I’m suggesting…give it s shot. How do you look, feel, and perform? Do your biomarkers improve? Oddly enough, not so sensationalistic a proposition and if I could just get people to TRY this I’d not need all the science. let em know how it goes.


    Fructose intolerance is VERY common in folks with gluten issues:

    I’d suggest the use of yams, sweet potatoes, and squash such as acorn, spaghetti and similar items. For fruit stick with berries and mellons as they contain less fructose. Limit carbs a bit if you have insulin resistance.


    Agree with Tim. if you want to try ditching the beans for a month in preference to things like yams, give’er a shot.


    THANK YOU! Not to be a jerk but folks of Asian or Indian descent seem to think they have the market cornered on carbs! My family is from Arkansas…plenty of carbs AND the health of Asian/Indian populations is not as good as most folks assume.

    Ok, my flight is loading. More later.

    1. Those people from Arkansas do love them carbs. Long Islanders, too (that’s me). Thanks very much for the detailed response, Robb! Holy cats is right.

      G’night, all,


  19. Okay, seriously, I apologize for having offended anyone. I’m really sorry. And I’m even more sorry that some of you took my comments literally, oh my god! I don’t know everything and don’t claim to. But the point I was trying to make is that to a certain degree, everything is bad for you. EVERY human body reacts to things differently. I’m well aware of your meat and egg suggestions of free-range, antibiotic free, etc, etc etc. There are things we will find out in the future that we don’t know right now about ourselves and our bodies so to all the people that are going to make life changing decisions based on this book…good luck. It’s just that it’s not the first time someone will say something, then in the future we may find out it’s wrong. So here’s a crazy idea, how about we enjoy our lives and not always try to make life perfect by being pawns and following whatever fad comes our way. And Tim, sorry for bringing any animosity to your site, it wasn’t my intention.

    1. Jimmy, thanks. I agree with your comment. We know very little. No matter what the changes are that you make (or, even if you don’t make any changes), it’s important to get the occasional blood test. No stress, just tracking every 3-6 months.



    2. I think some people already know that everything is bad for you, to a certain degree. But what’s to be discussed is what’s best for you and what doesn’t have certain awful effects, like gluten, mercury, etc.

      Even our breathing is killing us!

      But, like stress, we all need to get some (food, not gluten), just have it in moderation and from the right sources.

  20. Fantastic post guys, I love reading about information that challenges the status quo. I’m going to give this a try straight away. I’ve already printed this article out for various friends who suffer from allergies and constant complaints about digestive problems.

    Very excited about the forthcoming book Tim. If you are ever in London, I will happily buy you a beer… gluten free of course. 😀


  21. As with most of the paleo-related health information, I’d like to see a bit more than anecdotes and theory. Some actual decent research would be great.

    I’m a skeptic at heart, and when I see that a lot of this seems to come out of the corner of naturopaths, journalists without scientific trainign (Pollan et al.) or at most individual, practicing MDs, I’m rather relucant to accept that “this fact is”. I’m not accusing anyone of malice or peddling snake-oil (well, maybe the naturopaths), it’s just that this is a rather complicated subject and wrong conclusions or overrating certain facts is rather easy to do. You might be on the cutting edge of new discovieres, living healthy a decade before the general scientific community acknowledges it, sure, but you also might just drink some kool-aid.

    I don’t mind people trying things out, as our individual reactions (positive and adverse) vary a lot, so a lot of diets might help people out, possibly not for the reasons they were invented or the theory they’re based on…

  22. Tim, you say soaking legumes in water helps to eliminate most of the anti-nutrients – so I guess anything legumy you buy in a can is decent to eat?



  23. “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, barley, and millet, which are the gluten-containing grains, are likely the worst of the bunch with regard to health.”

    as Linda mentioned above “According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center, millet is gluten free.”

    I haven’t seen that study, but I have a package of Eden Organic Millet and it says “a Gluten free food”.

    Which set of info can we rely on?

    also as Rita asked “Are sprouts ok?” I have organic quinoa that sprouts very easily but I have some I guess regular quinoa from Roland that I can’t get to sprout. I guess that’s bad news but I have a ton of it. It says it’s pre-washed so maybe that’s why it won’t sprout.

    Also, what effect would nixtamalization have on the grains? Is that what you’re doing by soaking the lentils with baking soda or what purpose does that serve?

  24. Awesome, will try this diet out

    With a blood test should I just look at getting a ‘general’ blood test with whatever they usually test for or should I be asking for specific things?

  25. Let’s say for the sake of argument that someone is a vegan purely for ethical reasons and understands the benefits of removing grains, legumes, and dairy from one’s diet.

    Aside from directing them to change their ethical beliefs, what advice would you give them?

  26. Sorry to be the skunk at the picnic, but I increased my bone density by 15 per cent in a year just by occasional work on the weight machines. In addition, sixty million French people eat French bread two or three times a day, and I haven’t heard about catastrophes like the ones you describe.

  27. While it all looks interesting, I am curious about whether (or where) his data on this diet has been published and what his qualifications are (his site mentions having worked in biochemical research, but not what his actual qualifications are). As someone else pointed out, there is a lot of bad nutritional information out there and nutritionists recommending things which seem, at first light, to make sense, but which later turn out not to have any actual scientific backing to them.

    I’m not trying to be overly critical of Robb here, it’s just that very often these kind of claims can end up being overhyped or exaggerated (intentionally or unintentionally) because of subjective bias, and the use of anecdotes as evidence and claiming to cure such wide ranging disorders are often warning flags about this kind of thing.

    Another questions I would have would be how it compares to other healthy diets and placebo (often people will show large improvements just by being in a clinical trial, and any “better” diet will improve the health of someone who isn’t eating healthily), but this would most likely be answered in any published research Robb did into this (or referenced as part of it)

    Note: To give some clarification as to where I’m coming from with the skepticism, in the UK there was someone who had their own TV show called Gillian McKeith. In the first season she was called “Dr” Gillian McKeith, which was then removed after complaints that she doesn’t actually have an accredited PHD, so isn’t entitled to the “Dr” prefix (and her BSc was in communications, not medicine). She also made claims about doing clinical research, none of which (as far as anyone has been able to find out) has actually been published. There’s been a bunch of other stuff as well (selling a herbal remedy which was banned for sale in the UK) which has left a lot of us in the UK somewhat skeptical about a lot of claims from nutritionists (as opposed to dieticians, which is a protected term similar to the “Dr” prefix and refers to someone with a relevant MD in food and diets).

    Then there’s Matthias Rath who pushes the boat out with his vitamin supplements as a replacement for anti-retrovirals when treating HIV (which, iirc, he also claimed didn’t cause AIDS)

    Again, not saying that Robb is pushing questionable nutritional recommendations like McKeith (and certainly not saying he’s anything like Rath), but the nutritional industry has had it’s credibility shaken pretty badly by people like them. Hence why some of us are wary of sweeping claims about nutritional changes curing (or treating) things like type 1 diabetese

    Oh, and there’s a third response which plants take with seeds which he has missed. Creating enough of them that, even if predators eat the vast majority, they will still be able to propagate, which is present in animals as well as in plants. I have to question his categorising wheat as being in the same category as toxins, since it would take such a long time for it to have an effect that it wouldn’t actually dissuade animals from eating the seeds, and so would have minimal effect in terms of protecting the plant’s seeds (and therefore would seem to have little influence over the evolution of the plant)

  28. You know this sounds all fancy and stuff. There’s just one problem, I look at the suggested one week worth of food and I either don’t know, or probably don’t like most of it. I’m really picky with food and usually resort to the usual meat/veggie dinner. However breakfast and lunch become a problem. I eat cereals for breakfast and bread for lunch.

  29. This makes so much sense to me, and could answer a lot of problems I’ve been having. I’ve been suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome for years now whenever I eat APPLES or more recently anything with thick skins. I have also suffered with Iritis a couple of times (am suffering my second flare up right now, which is why I’m reading this!) and I get a very sore back which might be the start of Ankylosing Sponsilitis. Iritis and AS are both autoimmune diseases. I had already read that many people have seen good results with a low starch diet which I already started a few days ago, and reading this makes it all click into place. I will post back my findings in one month. Just one question, if it’s the gluten and not the starch does this mean that potatoes and rice are OK?

  30. Interesting post. In my experience food intake also depends much on what type of activity (if any) you are doing.

    For example, I’ve been involved in mountain duathlon for some time and experimenting with proper diet ever since. I tried pretty much everything from vegeterian to paleo style but neither seemed to work for me.

    Either I had a lots of energy (vegetarian) but my strength went down or other way round (paleo). Then based on the book “The Paleo Diet for Athets” I tried combination of both and for the first time I experienced both, sthrength and endurance increase.

    Here is a small exerpt from the book that pretty much sums up my view on this issue.

    “Training for endurance sports such as running, cycling, triathlon, rowing, swimming, and crosscountry skiing places great demands on the body, and the athlete is in some stage of recovery almost continuously during periods of heavy training. The keys to optimum recovery are sleep and diet.

    Even though we recommend that everyone eat a diet similar to what our Stone Age ancestors ate, we realize that nutritional concessions must be made for the athlete who is training at a high volume in the range of 10 to 35 or more hours per week of rigorous exercise.

    Rapid recovery is the biggest issue facing such an athlete. While it’s not impossible to recover from such training loads on a strict Paleo Diet, it is somewhat more difficult to recover quickly.

    By modifying the diet before, during, and immediately following challenging

    workouts, the Paleo Diet provides two benefits sought by all athletes: quick recovery for the next workout, and superior health for the rest of your life.”

  31. Tim-

    I stick for the most part to a diet of no grains, breads, or refined sugars. I do supplement with whey protein powder (pre/post workout) and casein protein powder at night. Are these two additions to my diet going to affect me in a negative way? Anybody have any info on this??

  32. I think too many people confuse gluten intolerance with the larger overall issue of macro-nutrient intake. Most people just aren’t celiacs (roughly 1% of the population). When you drop gluten, go paleo, or just reduce the industrialization in your diet, you usually reduce total calories, simple sugars, low quality fats, and increase protein. This is why Tim can eat cupcakes once a week and still feel great. His diet overall is probably super clean overall and he’s not a celiac. If he was, a weekly dose of gluten would be enough to keep his gut in disarray.

    While I agree with Robb’s recommendations, it’s important to understand all the reasons why the can work. It’s possible to go on gluten free and still eat crap. Substituting grain for other forms of sugar isn’t going to help, nor is substituting dairy and beans for factory farmed beef. This is why two people can try a given diet and get completely different results. The devil is always in the details, and the details are much harder to account for.

    My recommendation? Get at least a ballpark feel for you macro-nutrients. How much sugar, protein, carbs, fat, fiber, calories, etc. are in your average day. Is this optimal? Until you actually track your diet and get some numbers, you are flying blind, and everyone I’ve sat down with to do this is always surprised (massive amounts of sugar, no protein, and often not many calories). While Tim can follow a rough set of rules (slow carb), I’ll bet he’s done the math 12 different ways to know what his diet works averages out to.

    Next up, increase the quality of your food before you worry about anything else. Those silly vegetarians do bring up some good points. For example, while salmon, mentioned above, is actually relatively low in mercury (0.01 ppm) choosing the right salmon is pretty important. The difference between farm raised Atlantic salmon and wild caught Pacific salmon (Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, Chum, Pink) includes PCBs, omega-6 levels (fat), and arachidonic acid (trigger for inflammation). The quality of your beef, chicken, and vegetables can vary in much the same way. Get to know your food.

    Finally I recommend focusing on what you should be eating, not on what you must eliminate. It’s much easier to avoid bad foods when you’re full of good foods. The more spinach you eat the less room there is for donuts.

    Getting some of these details hashed out and the quality up, makes a specific diet, whether it’s paleo or not, much more effective. While we all may not agree on meat content or grains, we can all agree that we haven’t evolved eating ketchup and soda. Even my grandmother knows broccoli is good for you and she doesn’t read scientific journals. Start with that.

  33. Tim,

    Really interesting read, wish I new all this stuff LONG ago. I’ve had serious issues with my digestive tract for some time now, beginning with pancreatitis which the Dr’s chocked up to “unknown cause”, then leading into having to have my gallbladder removed (wish I had done more research before hand) at the GI’s suggestion due to “under functioning”. I’ve also had mild difficulty swallowing since I can remember, as well as GERD for the past 4 years. Now I’ve taken measures and quit alcohol (after the pancreas issues) and adjusted my diet to take in more and more fruits and veggies (not enough, but more mind you) and I’ve started exercising much more but I’m still having intermittent digestive and emotional issues (mild depression and anxiety mainly). I plan on buying this book and getting started to see what happens and was wondering if you had any other suggestions that might help along the way, and if being without a gallbladder will have any effect on my success and living a normal, healthy life. Thanks!

  34. How is it that Italians seem to have a healthy lifestyle. I’ve never seen statistics on their health, but it’s got to be better than Americans. Is it just an illusion?

    Nevertheless, they seem to enjoy life more!

  35. I have to know…how harmful is the malted barley used in the production of beer? Since we are not actually ingesting the grain, is their still a problem. I firmly believe that beer must be good, and if your telling me I can eat meat and vegetables, and I can still enjoy a beer, all while adhering to your diet, than your diet is awesome. Thanks

  36. Great Post, Tim! I can not tell you the number of the clients who have come to see me for IBS hypnosis, weight management hypnosis, bulima, and pain management hypnosis who’s lives have been dramatically improved by going paleo. It never ceases to amaze me. Seriously. I am so on the Paleo bandwagon and have been for a couple of years now – glad to see you are pretty much too…even with the whole bean thing 😉

    There is one HUGE mistake/miscalculation I think most everyone who looks at or does paleo makes…and even though I DO understand that the above sample menu recommendations come from a very active, weight lifting male who’s protein needs are a bit more intense than your average Joe (or Julia) I wonder if the menu is misleading to others who are less informed too as there are hardly any portion sizes listed above…

    Paleo style eating should be around 80% veggies and fruit; 20% meat, eggs, fish, nuts and insects (yup, insects. they ate insects. not that I eat insects but if you like insects then go for the insects)

    Paleo is LOADS of LEAFY GREEN veggies, some tubers (like carrots), with the occasional meat, egg, nut, and fruit tossed in – according to season. (eggs are a springtime food, nuts are in the autumn, etc) It is NOT meat-heavy like Adkins, and while it may be most suited for a Michael Pollan-esque flexitarian style of eating, because of the amount of green leafiness it can be easily adapted to a veggie/vegan’s needs too.

    The trick, like said above, is to go totally “clean” for at least 30 days and then re-introduce each food to your diet and LISTEN to your body. But you have to listen to it after you’re clean…or it will tell you that what is actually bad for you (like crack) is something that you really really need. Even though you certainly don’t.

    Hmmmm… 80/20? Wonder where I’ve heard that before? 😉

    1. Absolutely agree with every single word as it resonates with my philosophy. Primarily a blend of Robert young’s ph miracle and primal life style. So do you incorporate suggestions regarding this lifestyle while your clients are in trance with you. 🙂 ..” as you hear the sound of my voice you relax even more…yes……….go deeeper……yes…and you see yourself starting to enjoy a primal life and feel repulsive to grains….yesssssssssssssssssssss” LOL

  37. Hi Tim and Robb,

    Great post as always, looking forward to your new book too.

    I hope it will be available in iBooks, Kindle or PDF. Robb’s book is not, and that is really unfortunate as I would buy it immediately.

  38. What about all of the gluten-free bakery products we see nowadays? King Arthur Flour recently launched a whole line of gluten-free products:

    It’s still made from grains, and it’s still bread. Is it too good to be true? It would certainly make it a lot easier to gut gluten out of ones diet.

  39. I’m new to the concept of the paleo diet, but have been working on eliminating gluten. A book I found very helpful (for those of us who are resistant to giving up breads and other baked treats) is “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook” by Elana Amsterdam. Using just almond flour and eggs to replace starch you can make a surprising number of replications of tradional wheat-flour based goods, which can really help ease the transition into a new way of eating. I made a carrot cake and a savoury kale/egg tart, complete with believable pastry crust. Both were delicious. She uses agave nectar for sweetening; not sure how that rates on the paleo, but as I said, it’s a good bridge if you want to ‘cross over’. Most of her recipes are dairy-free as well. It may just be a crutch, but hey, a crutch is sometimes necessary on the road to recovery!

  40. I cranked up my Paleo commitment level last week by switching out my morning oats and whey for an omelet. I’ve been feeling great & this weekend I actually had a dream where I ate about fifteen slices of bacon. Something Must Be Working Right…

  41. Great article. I found out I was gluten intolerant a few years ago. I cut out gluten altogether and feel so much better! Everyone should be aware that gluten is contained in many of our staple foods here in the West, and only we have the power to do something about it!

  42. Tim,

    When are you coming out with your book on health, nutrition, etc.?

    If you wanted to “cleanse” your body and colon, what would you use? (there is so much on the market right now)

    Thanks for this post, great info.


  43. Tim – I’m a huge fan but this could be a damaging post. A research bio-chemist and editor for a Nutrition magazine doesn’t warrant expertise in this field. You can be considered a nutritionist if you work at GNC. In the US a Registered Dietitian is the authority on nutrition and any deviation from this is dangerous. I know because my wife is an RD consultant for the state of NC WIC training program.

    It is important to note that Celiac disease is an inherited, autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged from eating gluten and other proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats. What would be considered “other proteins”? Corn, as mentioned, can also have negative effects considering corn since HFCS is in everything we eat (as mentioned in Food Inc.).

    What is important about this article is the meal plan. It consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts and small amounts of lean protein. This should be the framework of any healthy diet. It didn’t appear there were any MILK products in his meal plan.

    I’d recommend reading the chapter on “Energy” in Anthony Robbins book, Unlimited Power. Anthony concludes that MILK contains proteins that also damage the lining of the small intestines. Even Gandhi’s daughter in-law, Jawaharlal Nehru, states this… Take care of the membrane of your intestines and it will take care of you.

    Everyone is looking for ONE thing to solve all our problems and as you know it takes time and the process of elimination is what will work best. As humans, we originally ate lots of fruit, nuts, vege’s and protein. Focus on those foods and you are on your way to becoming super human.

    IN regards to this article…

    Section – “Alex, Age Five” – It appears he ate YOGURT. Nothing in the article states he is no longer eating MILK products – just Robb’s recommendations. I’m guessing he doesn’t eat milk products any longer.

    1. A dear friend, pregnant with twins and having half a pancreas, was just advised by an RD to eat…bagels, triscuit, and bread to manage her insulin. Goal was blood sugars below 120. The RD’s reccommendations put her sugars above 140. Swapping out all the grains for sweet potato and a Paleo-esque diet brought sugars below 100. Tell me that an RD is a trustworthy authority? They’re only as educated as an institution receiving state (government) credentials could be. The ones that look outside their curriculum are rare.

    2. So, you knock Wolf for being a research bio-chemist and editor for a Nutrition magazine, and then you suggest that we read Anthony Robbins? I love Anthony Robbins, but I’m pretty sure he’s not a Registered Dietitian either.

    3. @Andrew: “Even Gandhi’s daughter in-law, Jawaharlal Nehru, states this…”[sic]

      please don’t blindly quote stuff, Jawaharlal Nehru was a man and the first prime minister of India! Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were both stalwarts in Indian national struggle for independence. In my sight, you lost your entire credibility on this one thing!

      1. He got mixed-up. He is referring to Maneka Gandhi who is grand–daughter-in-law of JL Nehru. and daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. Her column on animal-rights, vegetarianism, diet and related issues is syndicated in various Indian newspapers.


  44. Rob,

    I appreciate the insight, but I my critique is that you gave a lot of contrarian information without any citing in the blog post. As a science geek, I’d like to read some of the articles that your findings are based from. Can you please post or direct message some of your primary sources?


  45. Ok but now i am quite confused, not saying that the article doesnt make sense but it is contradictory to some dietitian that recommend to eat freshly grinded cereals as they have kept all their good nutrients (vitamins, etc). basically in a few hrs flours are just dead gluten and harmful. now are freshly grinded grains beneficial

    read :

  46. Rob/Tim, After I wrote my comment last night, I realized I had two components of my diet that I am really unsure about.

    The first one is my whey and casein powders. I drink optimum nutrition whey after workouts and their casein before bed. Are these protein isolates as harmful as eating/drinking dairy products such as milk and cheese?

    The second one is peanut butter. I know peanuts are a legume, and I usually eat natural peanut butter that doesn’t have sugar added to it, but how does it rank on the scale of things with gluten, etc?

    Thanks for your time,


    1. Hi Tim and Robb,

      I noticed some confusion in your blog about which grains actually contain gluten. Here are three sentences from your text:

      “Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye oats, and barley”

      ” [W]heat, rye, and barley, which are the gluten-containing grains…”

      “[G]luten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and millet”

      Wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten. Oats do not contain gluten, but do contain a protein similar to gluten. Oats are also often cross-contaminated with gluten-containing grains as they are shipped, processed, etc on the same equipment. “Gluten-free oats” are oats where precautions have been taken to avoid cross-contamination. Millet does not contain gluten.

      You may want to straighten this out in your blog,

      Take care,


  47. Thanks for the reply Tim.

    Quick question for you or Robb. Regarding blood values, what testing do you recommend? I have had an IGE Blood test for food allergies recently, which all came back under the positive threshold for any allergies. However, I also have heard of an IGG test that monitors the prolonged effect over several days of the potential allergens. At least this is how it was explained to me.

    What type of traditional testing do you recommend outside of food elimination from your diet? Thanks again! Great article!

  48. Tim,

    You’ve surpassed yourself once again! Thanks for the great post. I’m going to get hopping on this right away…

    All the best,


  49. I could not be happier to see the collaboration between Tim and Robb. I’ve been eating this way for about 4-5 months, and could not be more thankful to the work that Robb is doing to spread the word.

    Robb’s podcasts are also very informative as well. Make sure to check them out if you have more interest and questions.

  50. Tim is a jerk for posting this article. After reading Robb’s excellent explanation I can no longer eat grains or grain like food without feeling guilty 🙁

    Robb, why didn’t you do a seminar while you were in T.O last week?

    Lastly re people from the Indian sub continent, we have higher rates of heart disease and diabetes than other ethnic groups.

  51. first – Tim, thanks for sharing this.

    Robb – I have been a fan of yours for years in the Crossfit community and have to say congratulations on coming this far with your book and the massive attention its receiving. I have been torn between Zone and Paleo for some time, but with evidence like this its irrefutable.

  52. I just took a class on edible wild plants. One of the basic staples: grass seed. We gathered it to include with dinner. Some we ground and cooked, some we ate raw. Strip right off the stalk, pop in mouth.*

    Of course grains are just domesticated grasses.

    So it appears that humans did actually evolve eating grains, unless for some strange reason they ignored a readily available food source.

    This doesn’t mean that all that stuff about glutens isn’t true. Lots of things are tradeoffs. I just wish “paleodiet” people would actually learn something about primitive hunting and gathering before making some of their claims.

    (Others: l’ve seen claims that long-distance running isn’t “paleo,” while anthropologists are saying that humans are some of the planet’s best endurance runners and used to spend days running down wild game. And don’t get me started on “paleos” who eat bacon and dairy…I’m still waiting to see how one goes about milking a wild bison.)

    * Almost all grass seeds in the U.S. are edible, but a few in the Southwest are not. Individual seeds that are purple and two or three times bigger than normal are infected with a poisonous fungus.

  53. Most likely the cause of all the gluten intolerance that Americans are experiencing has more to do with the way our food is produced, not that our bodies aren’t designed for eating grain type products. If gluten were really the source of our ailments, then why has this only recently shown up as a medical condition in the last 20 years or so while humans have been consuming wheat, barley, rye and oats for ten thousand years or more?

    One would need to look at other environmental factors such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides used in industrial grain production, the processing of the grains before being turned into pre-packaged foods, as well as the combination of other ingredients that could cause negative reactions on the molecular level (such as process oils like corn, safflower and canola. Don’t even get me started on HFCS or other chemical flavor enhancers).

    It is a little known fact that lactobacillus, a beneficial bacteria, is missing in most industrially produced bread products. It is part of the fermentation process of the flour and yeast, breaking down the proteins and amino acids into a digestible form for humans. The main place the lactobacillus is found is on human skin. So, in the old days, when mom would bake bread, kneading it with her bare hands, she was not just getting a good workout, her hands were actually a necessary process of the culturing of the bread through the yeast and lactobacillus.

    Just like those that are lactose intolerant can usually consume yogurt or kefir without any problems, the same may be true of those who eat home baked breads.

    Those with celiac disease are suffering an autoimmune condition. It isn’t unlike an allergy to nuts or seafood or any of the more common food allergies, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. My main concern is that those that do not suffer from celiac may be restricting their dietary choices and eliminating a very healthy food and great source of folic acid and b complex vitamins from their diets.

    The jury is still out on this topic, and I think it will prove in the end to be just another diet craze like the low fat 80’s and low carb 90’s. In the meantime, I’ll keep baking bread at home. No bread machine needed.

  54. The Paleo Diet is a great Muse and wonderful niche marketing. That’s about it. It is not the answer for everyone and if you don’t want to give up pasta just limit the portion size. It is not killing you. Stress is a much better indicator of lifespan. Worrying about a cup of pasta is not healthy.

  55. Awesome. I’ve been listening to Robb’s podcast for a while now and am looking forward to picking up a copy of his new book. Most health gurus tend to have really good content for either nutrition or exercise, but rarely both. Robb’s definitely a go-to guy for it all.

  56. He seems to demonize dairy products but I wonder if he has considered the harm that pastuerization, homogenization and grain feeding cows has done to our dairy supply. If you have cows that feed on organic grass in outdoor lovely settings and then their milk is kept raw and organic it doesn’t have many of the harmful effects prescribed to dairy products over the years. I highly recommend the book “The Untold Story of Milk” to all including Tim Ferriss and Robb Wolf. See reviews here and more: and visit the author’s website. He is an MIT graduate who has learned the amazing health giving effects of raw, organic, grass-fed cow milk (other animals work well also):

  57. I wonder how sprouted grains compare to the ones that the article talks about.. Or if it doesn’t matter and “all grains are bad”

  58. Hey Tim and Robb

    I’ve just started working with Martin Berkhan’s concepts (with excellent results) and would love some input on carb intake as it relates to the 30 day test suggested by Robb. lifting/cycling 4 days per week so, obviously need some carbs. Mostly fruit? Spuds?

    I’m sure you’ll cover much of this in the book but in the mean time?



  59. Your article was really helpful. I’ve been struggling with weight loss, hypothyroidism (for years), just recently found out I have osteoporosis (at 40) and a host if other health issues. Of course, I’m addicted to rice, pasta and breads. AND I’m a vegetarian. 

    My question to you is, what if I don’t eat eggs, dairy or poultry or meat? (my diet is mostly soy, beans and plant based)

    What are my options?

    What are my other options?

  60. Hey, Tim, I train Brazilian Jiujitsu four to six days a week. I’ve been doing it for about twelve years now and I’m always battling overtraining syndrome. One of the ways I cope with it is that I watch my diet extremely carefully, but I would be terrified to go without grains. Have you been doing jiujitsu while going without grains? I only weigh 117 pounds so I always feel I’m in danger of getting crushed, injured, destroyed if I’m not in perfect condition and if my eating isn’t completely geared toward the sport. Since you do BJJ, I thought you might have some insight….but remember, I’m little (crushable) (and the guys I train with aren’t).

  61. Tim, Look forward to your book. As a biologist, in particular however, I hope that you don’t make the mistake of considering a vegetarian diet as being comprised of fish, as if they are neither produce or a byproduct of an animal. You seem too intelligent to do that but one of you comments made me worry. If people want to eat fish, that’s value-free but if their flesh are not considered animal meat, I am concerned about our basic knowledge.

    People often seem to become evangelical and even snarky with one another about diet issues. But Tim, I think your comment about Jimmy, in saying “I do agree that your “nonsense” attack is a bit too strong, though” is disrespectful in itself. What is so ‘nonsens’ical about the fact that typical meat consumption is consistent with what he is saying. Why else would you and others be advocating for other sources of meat? Jimmy deserves an apology from several others on here; I don’t agree with him but respect, people.

  62. Well, Gluten-free/Paleo sure is the current diet bandwagon. Congratulations for capitalizing on that. It seems like half of my kids’ friends at school are “gluten-free.” Is this really a problem for so many people all of a sudden? I doubt it. Nobody was “gluten-free” 20 years ago.

    This diet will work though. If you cut one of the primary sources of calories out of your diet, unless you find a way to completely substitute it with something else, you will lose weight.

    Perhaps “Paleo” humans ate very little grain, but humans were consuming some grain as early as 23,000BP, and humans in the Fertile Crescent were harvesting and consuming a wide variety of grains and lentils around 9000 BCE. I think most of us have adapted by now.

    By the way, paleolithic humans also ate insects, maybe we should start incorporating that in our diets. The supply is plentiful, and perhaps we’re missing some important health benefits.

    1. In evolutionary time 100K years is instantaneous.

      And yes, we probably should include more insects into our diet. In the mean time more shell fish as they are closely related.

  63. Oh and one more note, a company who has pasture-fed (grass) organic raw milk is Organic Pastures but they can only delivery within California due to FDA regulations… (ahem)… but as a quick response to Robb Wolf’s mention that dairy has protease inhibitors, according to Organic Pastures, their raw, organic, pasture fed cow milk is filled with protease along with many other powerful and useful enzymes that aid digestion and the body… More info here: I’m always trying to learn more so if there is a problem with this milk I’d really like to know but from my ongoing research it appears to be an amazing food.

  64. I noticed Mark’s books have been mentioned already, but no one pointed out the blog/site. Definitely a wealth of knowledge and an amazing community.

    (no, I’m not affiliated in any way, it’s just helped me change my lifestyle for the better.)

  65. WOW! Check the fire storm about this topic.

    Tim, nice headline, how many likes will this yield!?

    I must say I’ve only really dipped my toe into the diet world (I’ve always been fit and healthy) however, one key thing I have found is the extra energy that comes from an increase in veg and a decrease in pasta/bread.

    More energy = more achieved = more fun. So, I’m down with that.

  66. Great article! Can’t wait to read the whole book. I can’t help but wonder if my mother had been told to drastically change her diet, if she’d still be alive today. She was obese, had type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, kidney disease and was depressed. She passed away a few years short of her 50th birthday. I’m going to blog about this today…everyone needs to read this article.

    I also can’t help but wonder…if not for CF, would I have ever learned about changing my diet? I did 30 days 100% paleo 3 months ago, and average 90% now. I had added bread back in once a day (more than that and I’d bloat up) but now I’m not doing that any more. I’m incredibly grateful to this community.

  67. Can you help me understand this?

    Why would the average life expectancy have gone up so much if our diets are now so horrible?

    Why are we so much taller now than these ancient peoples if our diet is so damaging?

    1. Hi

      Life expectancy is due to Medicine (you know antibiotics?) and life style (I dont kill wild animals twice a week).

      Regarding Height: please have a look at hunters-gatherers bones…

  68. Hi Tim & Rob,

    My diet as of today has brown rice and rolled oats, as of tomorrow they will be cut out as well. The differences I have felt since I cut out wheat and sugar have been amazing. My body fat has decreased significantly and my energy level remains constant, which, as a med student is a feat on it’s own.

    I treat myself to 85% dark chocolate (thoughts on this?) and am a coffee lover, what do you suggest I use to add to my coffee as a milk alternative?



  69. I recommend the book, the Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson over Robb Wolf’s book – same topics, but more accessible writing style. I also highly recommend I have been eating Primal/Paleo for a year and have the best energy and physique of my life.

  70. Hi there Tim (and Robb)

    First off, I appreciate you running this piece and getting more information out to everyone.

    I agree that in SOME people, grains, carbs and other “off limit” foods are an issue. My wife has some gluten intolerance and having her avoid gluten for now has resulted in massive changes.

    I do have to side with Tim on this one, that he does a whole day of “eating whatever he wants” which is great.

    The goal, as I see it, should be a very flexible metabolism (Metabolic Flexibility). Your body should be able to take any food and turn it into fuel without many “side effects” (wacky blood numbers, lack of energy, low levels of muscle, etc).

    If someone is very Metabolically Flexible, they should be able to process evil grains too.

    As Tim points out, this must be tested on an individual basis.

    I work with my athletes/clients to get them to eat a wider variety of foods with fewer issues (more metabolically flexible).

    I feel this is a great marker of health and ironically closer to the situation of early humans. If early humans found ANY food source they would eat it and eat as much of it as possible. It would not be an advantage if that food source caused them issues.

    Rock on

    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  71. Are dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.) gluten free?

    Additionally, as a poor college student eating meat and other gluten-free products is EXPENSIVE. If I simply reduce the amount of gluten out of my eating by 20-30% will I see an improvement?

    Thanks, and great post!

  72. earthly delights quinoa says on their site:

    Earthly Delights Quinoa is prewashed , so no further rinsing is required to remove the saponin. The coating makes the grain unappealing for birds eat while still on the plant. While our Quinoa is pre-washed you should still always place the product in a strainer prior to cooking and rinse thoroughly.

    i have emailed them for comment on the claims of this post

  73. Tim,

    Do you have any knowledge about the drink Kombucha? It is touted as a cure all miracle drink usually mentioned by people in the quinoa camp. (I was one of them)


  74. Great Stuff!!! Tim and Robb, awesome combo here! Us long islanders sure do love our carbs, but no more! Strict Paleo works like a charm guys, give it a shot! See for yourself!

  75. Hey Tim,

    I am a professional athlete that ways 270 pounds and I am wondering what I can do to avoid grains and still keep my weight. I have avoided gluten in the off-season and have had amazing results. But it’s a little harder to do doing the season when a lot of times I have to eat practically everything just to maintain weight. Thank you for your time.

    1. Hey Jeff,

      I’d suggest seeing Robb’s response here in the comments on Footballers using Paleo + dairy. I also think that adding in tubers, yams, etc. could work well. 270 lbs! Damn, that’s a big unit! I’m a wee 180 🙂

      Good luck!


    2. I’d suggest seeing Robb’s response here in the comments on Footballers using Paleo + dairy. I also think that adding in tubers, yams, etc. could work well. 270 lbs! Damn, that’s a big unit! I’m a wee 180 🙂

      Good luck!


  76. The article is very informative and I believe useful for many and specially those who are grain intolerant. Appreciate Rob and Tim for bringing it up.

    My two cents on this:

    The ideal way to eat grains and lentils is by sprouting or germinating.

    This will convert nutrients into much more absorbable form at the same time increasing the nutritional value by a ton and also potentially reducing the toxins. There is lot of research that supports this.

    Vegans: no need to get scared by reading this article. I can speak for Indians and we always soak the dried lentils before cooking and its just a little more waiting to sprout them.

    As Tim suggested some people use neutralizers(baking soda, lime/lemon juice, apple cider vinegar) while soaking the lentils which will reduce the hard to digest aspects of the lentils and thus promote their absorbability.

    Now a days you can get sprouted bread (check out the foodforlife website) which I would think gives the better of grains if not the best.

    There is another important aspect of digestion that this article does not address: Food combining. This is one of the root causes why so many people in this country have digestive issues like IBS, Chrons disease, Acid Reflux etc. Simply stated, it is the science/art of combining foods that are complimentary to each other during the digestion process and do not cancel each others out.

    you can read more than this at this site: google for Greate Taste No Pain system and follow any link. The author is a nutriitional excerpt like Rob.


  77. @Robb

    Very interesting post. I read it during breakfast today and I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’m a vegetarian, I don’t eat that much grain but I will try to cut it for at least 1 month to see how it works. It’s a bit wired because of the long time humans have been eating and cultivating grain, but your reasoning about the grain not “wanting” us to eat it does make sense.

    However, the reason I write this comment is that I checked the links you gave in the comments, especially the one to Michael Eades’ blog on the book “The Vegetarian Myth”. The author of the book talks about sustainability and avoiding suffering and how bad agriculture is. It seems to be that she wrote the book without thinking about they how animals are actually raised. If we eat more meat, we need more animals. More animals = more food = more agriculture. Her reasoning assumes that animals come out of thin air when we actually have to produce more grain to feed them, use more water to clean, etc.

  78. I just cringe every time I hear about eating ‘what we evolved to eat’. This is a not a scientific argument. We didn’t evolve to live a long time. Evolutionary arguments to PRESCRIBE diet are fallacious. Evolution is used to explain things learned from separate research, you can invoke it to explain the need for a particular vitamin for example, but it is not prescriptive.

  79. This is basically phase 1 of the South Beach diet, which was developed by a cardiologist. It does work for weight loss and general health. As a pescatarian, I find it reasonably easy. I focus on eating a lot of protein–maybe three (well-cooked) eggs daily plus a fair amount of nuts and low-fat dairy.

    The most difficult aspect of any new diet, especially if restrictive, is keeping it interesting. So I also focus on big flavor, accomplished through heavy use of fresh herbs, salsas and the like.

  80. Norman-

    Martin is s super sharp guy, you will do well using his methods. I wrote a few good pieces for the performance menu years ago on IF:

    I always like to ask “who are you, what are your goals?” before making a recommendation like you are asking for. This stuff can be made far more specific with a little more information.


    Sprouts reduce some anti-nutrients, increase some others. they are NOT indicated for autoimmunity:

    I know everyone loves Ezekial bread but I’m not really a fan.


    here is a nice perspective on Paleo Vs. Zone:

    Synopsis: High level Zone athlete ditches Zone, goes paleo and crushes previous bests…all while dropping the insanity of weighing and measuring every meal. Maybe it’s because I was a chemist but I’d shoot myself before weighing my food.


    It all depends on how deep your pockets are. We could run up thousands of dollars of blood work for you that a simple elimination diet conveys free of charge other than the time/effort invested. Allergy screening only considers one slice of the immune response…if you have not consumed gluten for a week or two you will likely be “negative” in the WGA antibody screens, so it’s recommended that you consume the offending food so you can score a positive?! Seems odd to me. I really just recommend the tests I mentioned previously for folks who are critical/suspicious of the whole concept.


    I’m not a fan of protein powders. I wish I was as I get a ton of traffic to my site and could sell the heck out of them. It is rare the instance that I see them out perform real food. If someone is on a mass gain plan eat paleo and do a gallon of whole milk each day. Cheaper, better. Check out john Welbourn and CrossFit Football for examples of big powerful athletes using paleo + dairy:

    here are some sample meal plans. you don’t need the book or your supps!!

    Peanuts, although delicious are also highly atherogenic. But if it’s a question of peanut butter or hookers & cocaine…well, just use your best judgement.


    The links to Cordain and Lindgerg’s sites are two of the richest sources for information. A pubmed search of “evolutionary medicine, paleo diet, hunter gatherer” all bear great return. Also, if you are truly geeked on this stuff you MUST read Frank Booths paper on exercise and gene expression:

    This is THE primer on Epigenetics and the influence our ancestral energy expenditure had in forming our genetics. If you have specific area of interest (autoimmunity, epigenetics, metabolism) let me know and I can throw you more specifics.


    I have to completely disagree with you. Folks are reversing autoimmunity by removing grains and eating “factory farmed beef.” Is it ideal? Absolutely not, but pulling the “everything in moderation” card does no one any favors. Meat, seafood, veggies, fruit, tubers, good fats. That’s what I’m recommending, that’s what is working.

    Dan Cugliari-

    I mentioned above the add-on blood work. I also go into nauseating detail in the book.


    Rice and corn do contain high proline protein similar to gluten but I’d put their danger much below that of gluten. That said, the Okinawans are a nice example of a diet that was historically NOT based on grain (main carb source was a nutrient dense tubber) and they were taller and healthier than the general Japanese population due to higher protein and lower anti-nutrient intake. And again, simple experimentation is quite compelling in the end.

    One more plane ride, then I’m home!!

    1. Robb Wolf writes:

      “Peanuts, although delicious are also highly atherogenic. But if it’s a question of peanut butter or hookers & cocaine…well, just use your best judgement.”

      The problem with that statement is that it is inumerate: when one looks for information about finding a percentage increase in death from heart disease in humans as a function of eating a definite quantity of peanuts then there is no such information (at least that I’ve been able to find).

      I had a look at the cited studies in which a correlation was found between peanut consumption and build-up of atherosclerotic plaque. They fed the experimental animals a diet containing a large amount of peanut oil and later dissected them and found that there was more atherosclerotic plaque in the coronory arteries than in the controls.

      There is nothing in the studies that allows a person to make a rational translation of the results to his own situation. How do the results of a rat being overfed with peanut oil translate to a person eating a tablespoon of peanut butter per day? No-one knows.

      Since there is no scientific evidence that allows one to quantify the risk then there is no scientific justification for prohibiting the consumption of peanuts. In other words, if you’re already enjoying your tablespoon of peanut butter per day there is no scientific justification to stop. To do so would be neurotic rather than scientific.

      A scientific result that was actually useful might come from a so-called longitudinal study: the tracking of a human population over time and analyzing for correlations between dietary factors and health.

      Along those lines, all I was able to find were results that found that the consumption of nuts (not just peanuts) had net health benefits. For example, The Nurses Health Study found over a twenty year period that women who consumed at least one ounce of nuts per week were 25% less likely to develop gallstones. A study published in the journal Obesity of people 8865 over a 28 month period found that the subjects who ate nuts at least twice a week were 31% less likely to gain weight. Also, peanuts are rich in niacin, and a study of 3000 men 65 years or older found that those getting 22 mg of niacin per day were 70% less likely to develop Alzheimers than those consuming 13 mg per day.

      Of course none of those studies relate directly to risk of heart disease but what they do is to give a person a scientific basis on which to evaluate the pros and cons of consuming peanuts. Robb Wolf’s hyperbole and the studies that he cites provide no basis on which to decide anything.

      Now getting away from actual the actual science I wouldn’t be surprised if a person’s mental state is a far more important risk factor in developing heart disease than a handful of peanuts per day. In other words people who are so neurotic that they go to dietary extremes on the basis of what they read on an Internet Doctor’s, and coincidentally book-selling author’s, blog, are probably going to die sooner from a heart attack than more easy going and slower to react people.

      So pass me the peanuts, thank you.

      1. I agree. While hyperbole and oversimplification garner attention, they also obscure important nuances of the big picture, namely, that net benefit is what’s most important to consider. A food Robb recommended to avoid, quinoa, is an example of this. The presence of saponins on the outer seed coat alone is not a valid reason to discard what many consider to be a superfood due to its impressive nutritional profile. If not already cleansed by the manufacturer, simply cleansing in a strong alkaline solution and rinsing are enough to remove most of the saponin residue. Even if a tiny amount should remain, it’s reasonable to conclude that due to its net health benefit, it warrants a place in a healthy diet, despite Robb’s characterization of it being a “hippy” food that should be avoided.

    2. Do NOT recommend drinking a whole gallon of milk every day.

      My friend used to drink a lot of milk (somewhere between five and eight glasses) every day and it caused calcium to build up in his salivary glands. Now he has to poke them whenever the saliva gets “stuck”.

      While milk is good, remember there can always be too much of a good thing.

  81. I would also like to hear Robb’s take on sprouted grains.

    On a side note, I am a Creationist believing everything was designed and not evolved much over a period beyond 10s of thousands of years…but I am a rational engineer with a strong background in science and I enjoyed Robb’s logic here.

    I have always been a big fan of the Ezekial 4:9 sprouted grain bread. It comes from a Bible verse and provides a complete amino acid profile. Not gluten free but it is using the grain in a different way.

    It would be cool to see this diet approach, developed from one perspective (evolution) reconcile completely with Biblical examples. Come to think of it, if you believe that the Garden of Eden was perfect then the hunter/gatherer approach does make perfect sense.

    Just not sure on the sprouted grains part…I guess I will have to research it a bit.

    Thanks for the post.

  82. I’ve read about halfway through the comments here, and want to chime in with my own results. This came out long… I hope some of you find it helpful.

    About a year ago, I quit gluten. It started with a modified low-carb diet, where I simply avoided wheat/wheat baked goods, but I continued to eat spelt, rye, oats, etc. That was horrible — I did not feel better, and I had cravings like you can’t imagine. I decided (and I’m so glad I did!) that rather than just give up, I’d switch to a gluten-free diet for 2 weeks and see what happened.

    What happened felt like a miracle.

    After about 4-5 days, cravings disappeared. My mood improved. My bowel symptoms (that I’d become so used to that I forgot they weren’t “normal”) went away. My skin looked better. I slept better. It was amazing!

    After a while, my “I’m full and don’t want to eat any more” signal started working again. And I started eating less. And less. And less. (not counting calories, just wanting less.) I went from eating about twice what most people eat, to eating a more normal amount. I kept thinking I must be losing weight, and I did lose a little, but not much. It’s just that my body had healed and was actually absorbing what I ate. It may sound backwards, being glad to be eating less, but feeling satisfied on average portions feels really good.

    And here’s the bonus — recently, now that everything’s healed, I’ve been able to really cut down the calories and eat more like 1500 calories/day to lose weight (in the past, I’d lost weight on THREE THOUSAND, and felt awful!). Sure, I’m hungry sometimes, but you’re supposed to be, right?!

    I haven’t been a saint about avoiding gluten. Every few months I’ll think, “It’s not really necessary to do this,” and have pizza or something. And every time, I regret it.

    I do eat other grains in small quantities (avg. maybe 1 serving/day), and occasionally beans/legumes. I do eat cheese (avg maybe .5 servings/day) and have milk in my coffee and cream with my berries. I don’t drink soda or juice.

    So to those who asked if going all the way is necessary, my experience is that with gluten, YES. Even a little, even a couple times a month, makes me feel bad. But with the other stuff, not so much (though I may find just as great an improvement if I did eliminate beans/dairy/other grains completely).

    Eating at home and at better restaurants (who w

  83. oops… got cut off, so I’ll finish briefly.

    Eating at home and at better restaurants isn’t hard, once you learn a new way of cooking. Eating with family and friends requires some gentle education. And eating at cheap restaurants that can’t accomodate your needs… well… I don’t really miss it.


  84. Non-vegetarian: Hey Jimmy can you come over, I need some help lifting this extremely heavy object.

    Jimmy: No, I am a vegetarian.

    ^ I’m a vegetarian weightlifter, but thanks to the anonymous whoever that wrote this, everybody loves an inaccurate stereotype. *eyeroll*

    “3-Most of the kick-back to these concepts seem to come from the vegetarian camp. I’d recommend reading “The Vegetarian Myth” for some perspective on issues like sustainability:”

    This counterargument does nothing for vegetarians like me who went vegetarian based on animal rights and/or welfare, rather than environmentalist issues (which are important as well). Regardless of how well-raised you may think your animal protein is (which is questionable, given the labelling practices in the United States) at the end of the day slaughter is slaughter, and nothing deserves to die in horrific suffering for somebody’s culinary pleasure, just like nothing deserves to be skinned alive just so some anorexic fashionista can wear its skin when they have a perfectly-working one of their own.

    Isn’t it obvious already, not from loads of skewed scientific study but from sheer weight loss results of thousands of people, that the healthiest diet is one comprised primarily of fruits, vegetables, and legumes/nuts? Just like our foraging non-carnivorous primate ancestors *really* ate?

    The formula is the same that it’s always been: Avoid processed foods and drugs; eat your fruits and veggies (many which are natural antioxidants/anti-carcinogenic); get off your *** for half an hour several times a week, and you’ll probably feel better overall. In my opinion Westerners are *seriously* overcomplicating this issue, which is why we have the highest incidence of leisure-related diseases in the world.

    Sure, there are people out there with celiac disease who should avoid grain, but to call it a “poison” to most people comes off as paranoid.

    The reason cavemen could eat that much meat and get away with it is because they had to chase it for a week first, then stab it to death with a sharpened stick while it tried to stomp the life out of them. When people start tackling their steak dinners this way, I’ll check the results then.

  85. Interesting read. This might explain what I believed to be an allergy to diary and maybe wheat/pasta. I was negative for both on allergy tests but never believe doctors 100% anyways.. or these diet articles ;-). I just know what is good for me. Wheat/pasta makes me feel nausea “sometimes” and dairy pretty much always has the gas affect 😀 I still indulge on cheese, chocolate and occasionally bread. These foods might not be good for the body but they are good for the soul. 😀 I’ll take my chances… the only thing certain in life is death. Eat what you really love and avoid food that isn’t worth it.

  86. The Paleo enthusiasts constantly site all these cross cultural studies. Please, guys, don’t use these. It’s almost impossible to generalize from these. Prospective Epidemiology is the way to go.

    Japanese smoke more than Americans, they also die less of lung cancer. That doesn’t mean smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer.

    On the Inuit:

    “Excluding infant mortality, [only] about 25% of their population lived past 60. Based on these data, the approximate life expectancy (excluding infant mortality) of this Inuit population was 43.5 years.”

    To keep a population going doesn’t require resistance to cancer and heart disease, which kill people in their 60s and beyond, but to things like, say, freezing to death in the Arctic, being mauled by polar bears, or catching the flu with no medical care, that kill you during the short lives of hunter-gatherer societies.

    All that said, I completely agree with the paleo folk’s conclusions about grain. Grain be avoided (not gluten in particular), especially on a calorie-restriction diet — just not worth the calories.

    The long-term effects of diet on us, who can expect to live for 80 years, can not be deduced from Paleolithic peoples. Proper Epidemiology. Do it.

  87. Tim

    Great post. It came at a good time. My girlfriend and I are working on cutting out things that will cause us to loose weight. The idea of not taking in cereal for two weeks and lose 10 pounds works for me personally and as a heading. Here family history has problems with gluten. We are looking at cooking without anything gluten in it and seeing what happens.


    Thanks for breaking down this difficult subject. I have been looking for information that will give me food for thought (pardon the pun)

    Looking at what I eat and being open to any way that can lose weight and give back good healthy benefits is worth a read. Thanks again both of you

  88. *slaps forehead* Not sure what I CAN eat anymore! But I love a challenge, so I’ll try this. I’ve been on a gluten-free bent lately but haven’t fully embraced it, though I will now given the nature of the beast. All or nothing, eh? Ok.

    For reference purposes, is there a list somewhere of what exactly is strictly verboten? For instance, lentils are ok if soaked in baking soda but not from a can…?

    Thank god I live in SF. It’s an easy place to experiment with food. Just please don’t tell me I have to give up Philz coffee.