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.

Leave a Reply

Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

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

  1. Tim,

    I know you are an ardent wine fan, so where does wine fit into Paleo for you if you are in fat loss mode? Would the amount of gluten in beer (I’m talking good, complex craft beer) preclude it from being included anywhere save for maybe a once a week cheat day?

    1. Hi Matt,

      I would definitely eliminate beer or save it for cheat day. I have 2-3 glasses of wine probably 2-3 nights a week. Robb prefers tequila, but I just dig the wine more. Dry reds.


  2. For all the Average Joe’s out there looking for perspective from someone who has actually followed Robb’s (and Tim’s) advice:

    I was a competitive martial artist in my 20s and ate whatever I wanted, supplemented protein, and had decent performance and relatively low bodyfat (8%-15% depending on training cycle). Priorities shifted in my late 20s – early 30s, stopped training hard, kept eating the same way and gained 60 lbs of bodyfat in 7 years. Decided to do cardio, Globo Gym-type workouts 3 times per week, and ate “in moderation” for 2 years, and saw little result except for a slowdown on weight gain. My doctor put me on a statin for my high LDL cholesterol in 2005, at age 31.

    In May 2006, on my 32nd birthday, I decided enough was enough and started running and switched to a high-carb, low-fat diet. I became a better runner over the course of that year but my weight stayed the same. I couldn’t understand how I could eat “healthy”, run 20 miles per week and still be fat.

    In January 2007 until March 2010, I switched to a low-gi diet similar to Tim’s diet except with more carbs (from “healthy” sources such as whole grains, oatmeal, etc), and dropped 47 pounds over the following eight months. My blood tests showed significant improvement and I halved my statin dose.

    I looked and felt a LOT better, but I still had some nagging issues. Among these were that the evening of and day after my cheat day, which I called “Fatterday Saturday” (feel free to steal that Tim), I felt sick and sluggish. I also hit a plateau on bodyfat loss. Looking to calibrate more, I came across Robb’s blog and the Paleo diet. I was interested but not willing to go to that “extreme” until months after taking up CrossFit in December 2009. I was working out with many CrossFit athletes who were eating the Paleo diet. I was amazed at their performance in the gym and their physiques, so I figured I would try it for 30 days.

    At first it was hard giving up my beloved Fatterday Saturday carb-fest and my daily snack of ezekiel bread with peanut butter and glass of soymilk. But the Sunday gut-busting GI distress and fatigue went away, my performance improved, and my six-pack finally made its first reappearance since I left the kickboxing ring 10 years ago. I can now go half a day without hunger pangs (I used to get hungry many times throughout the day) and my cholesterol has improved to the very good range in spite of quitting the statin six months ago. My initial 30 day trial has become my lifestyle. I still go for that post-workout pizza once in a while, but it’s a gluten-free pizza and that doesn’t give me the GI distress that wheat crust does.

    I know Robb seems uncompromising in his advice. I think it’s because he wants people to succeed, and catering to someone’s unwillingness to do what it takes doesn’t help them. One thing he said stuck with me that shows how much he believes in this. He was at my gym giving a seminar, and when people asked if they can eat soy, or drink muscle milk, or something else that is healthy in their opinion but contrary to the Paleo diet, his response was always, “Not if you want to succeed.”

    I understand people having doubts about the Paleo diet at first glance, since it seems extreme to many and the diet and fitness industry are polluted with “quick fix” fads and overhype. But like Robb says, try it for 30 days, do some tests before and after, and then if it doesn’t work you will know from experience, not conjecture. What do you have to lose?


    Thanks for the article and for all of your work. Sorry for the long post but maybe it will help someone who is on the fence about this.


  3. Interesting article and interesting discussion. I noticed that dairy is implicated as causing problems as well, but mostly in passing. I have seen this ina lot of nutrition discussionm but have never really gotten a good explaination why it should be avoided. I love milk and greek yogurt. Any chance somebody could tell me in a reasonable tone of voice and without climbing onto a soapbox why I should skip them? Tim I remember that you said to avoid dairy as well. Gimme some facts please.

  4. Being positive in the sh*tball firestorm… the great part about this article shows that you have a highly educated following and that people are becoming more and more concerned about their health. We only grow if we push the status quo – I believe that is what lifestyle design is all about… this is just a major strategy session, eh?

    Cheers for that Robb and Tim – but don’t disregard my previous post, muhahhahha 😉

  5. Thanks for the blog Tim. And being more then 17 plus years in the holistic weight loss arena I couldn’t agree more on the issue with gluten.

    You might want to check out as well the book from Jeanne Marie Martin. She wrote the book “Complete Candida Yeast Guide Book”. I found this to be one of the best books to explain the issue but also give a lot of recipes and solutions how to implement a gluten free diet.

    And if you want my Top 5 tips on long term weight loss. here they are [on my site]

    Warm regards,


  6. So…I was reading along…generally interested, but not really engaged until I got to the part about Vitiligo. My wife has vitiligo and while the sight of it doesn’t bother me…it does bother her. Do you have any actual studies/examples of reversal of the effects of vitiligo by following this kind of diet?


  7. Seems foods these days are either ‘super-food’ panaceas or the root of our problems. Then as soon as we buy wholesale into one ideology, the tables turn, and yesterday’s hero is tomorrow’s villain. Honestly, watching the progress, if you could call it that, of modern dietetics is like watching a pendulum swing or a game of playground tether ball.

    The gluten-free diet is a medical diet, that is, it’s not balanced but it has a goal. I question the mind of anyone who claims one diet fits all, but considering most people’s background with wildly overeating grains, especially processed grains, and meats, I think a lot of people, particularly westerners, would see good results from this.

    But is it good long term? I’ll wager the grain-phobic crowd will just run into other problems down the road, once they’ve treated their disease, drive right on past the center line, and wind up on the other side of imbalanced lifestyle.

  8. I believe in the paleo diet, but I don’t believe it for everyone. The most successful people following this are going to be Blood Type 0.

    Meat Eating Blood Type 0 people make up about 44% of the population in the world and about 75% of the Native American Population (which is why white man killed the buffalo, it almost killed the entire native american community).. We have strong stomach acid, and the ability to break down fat very well…(intestinal alkaline phoshotase). even behind our two front teeth are usually shoveled..a design created for tearing flesh…

    For people who do not respond that wonderfully to the paleo diet, I’d imagine you would be blood type A. 41% of the population. Genetically your body is “newer” than 0 bodies and you can’t break down fats as well and have low stomach acid… Not a great combo for people who are “supposed” to be eating red meat….A’s can handle more carbs, fruits, and soy (i know i know… but it’s true) than us Paleo Eaters….

    All of my wellness clients have benefitted from a more individual approach to their diet. B’s and AB’s thrive on dairy it seems (from all of the people I’ve consulted with at least) but A’s and 0’s do not…From the clients I consult with they usually feel better very quickly and many “issues” resolve as the body naturally regains homeostatis and well being…

    Raw anything seems to be more effective than cooked things…..(hence sprouted grains/legumes for non paleo eating A types)

    Admittedly, wheat (whole wheat too) is pretty nasty stuff for ALL BLOOD TYPES and it is to be avoided.. I MUST AGREE WITH the PALEO SOLUTION 100% on that one… It’s a mutant grain and it isn’t designed for consumption (anymore). Same thing with swine.. (pork)..

    I’m really just looking to help people find solutions to diet that are being addressed by an more individual/genetic approach to diet and this exactly why the blood type way of eating is so effective…

  9. Pastured beef, pork & chicken and raw dairy are very healthy, I wish he had mentioned raw dairy. I def need reminding of my grain eating habits, starting a new business & moving have me eating all kinds of poison and just finding myself fatter and more miserable. I’ve printed out the menu and I’m doing it today!

  10. Great read. Can’t wait for the book.

    What about potatoes? Particularly white ones. I still can’t wrap my head around them being unhealthy. Sure, lots of anything starchy is not good. Fried and salted is bad. Otherwise, I think the occasional white potato is good.

    Any thoughts?

  11. I’m thrilled Rob discusses Lectins as well.. As this is amazingly important…

    Not all lectins are negative.. Some are positive…

    –Soy has a lectin that is beneficial for some.. Not so for others.

    –Wheat has a lectin (WGA – as the article addresses) that is harmful for everyone…

    –Escargot (snails) have a lectin that binds to Anthrax ( if i remember correctly)

    – Bananas have a lectin that binds to HIV (inhibiting its replication)

    – Peanuts have a lectin that can proliferate colon cancer…for some yet inhibits cancer for others…

    and on and on and on…… one’s man’s food is another man’s poison ….

    Not much research goes into lectins because unless CORPS patent all foods there is no way to directly profit (unless helping people is your goal)…

  12. Hi Tim!

    I do consider your articles as inspiring. Although, Lately one thing struck me. I have just read about your slow carb diet how-to-lose-20-lbs-of-fat-in-30-days-without-doing-any-exercise/. I think there is something about it.

    I have found 2 totally contradictions-

    in that diet (sometimes in comments) you suggest to eat lot of legumes. About whole grain and dairy you said that it is acceptable but not to eat to much and watch it to be it whole grain or for dairy to be it light.

    Now I have read this article and found:

    “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?”

    What I see now ridiculous is how on Earth is possible to eat at least something?

    One article forbids to eat fruits and encourages to eat legumes, in low amount allows to eat whole grain and dairy.

    The second article encourages to eat fruits and forbids to eat grains, legumes and dairy.

    So what is the truth?

    There is no spoon? Definitely no spoon to eat with for a person who tries to sum up both diets:)

    I claim that I admire you for what you have achieved, I do not want to offend you at all. I might have read and understood many things bad. Feel free to explain it to me, please, because I do think that these ways of lifestyle you are suggesting are very good, just to be understood properply.

    I think there must be some hack like: can do slow carb, when you reach what you want, start to eat ”no grain”

    2.only person that are allergic in some way to whole grain cannot eat grain

    3.there are limits- 1kg of beans per week, 1kg whole bread per week

    or the one you gonna write:)

    1. Hi Mir,

      Thanks for the comment. No offense taken. To clear things up:

      1) This post is Robb’s post. I agree that his Paleo approach works very well for fat loss, as just one example.

      To your questions:

      “One article forbids to eat fruits and encourages to eat legumes, in low amount allows to eat whole grain and dairy.

      The second article encourages to eat fruits and forbids to eat grains, legumes and dairy.

      So what is the truth?”

      2) I think Robb would agree that, unless you are lean, it’s a good idea to go easy on the fruit. I’m just more strict in that sense. Any more than a handful of berries stalls fat loss for me, and my post was focused on fat loss. I do not suggest whole grain or dairy, unless we’re talking about the “day off.”

      The truth is that, for fat loss, both will work. My version is a more lenient on the legumes, but it’s still a VAST improvement over consuming grains, as Robb also describes.

      Just cut out the starch to the greatest extent possible and eat plenty of lean protein and veggies. That’s all you really need to know 🙂

      Good luck!


  13. You can get gluten free anything these days — and the market and knowledge base is only improving.

    I’ve got Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 26. No family history. “Weird, right?” I’m sure it had to do with being over-medicated as a kid and with my diet. My immune system was shot. (I’m six years in remission now and controlling my Hashimoto’s without a bit of synthetic hormones. Thank goodness.)

    I’m gluten free now and I really don’t miss pasta or bagels or crackers or any of the other processed stuff. Once your brain stops craving it, you wonder why you ever wanted it to begin with.

    Another good post Tim. Cheers.

  14. @ j

    I believe you are right on about the adulterated food chain! After Noah left the ark, eating meat was allowed for the first time ever since vegetation was wiped out for a while. Prior to that it was mostly fruits as I recall (BTW anyone who believes the WWflood is a fairy tale needs to try to explain the reasons for the ice age.) Plus, God said in the Old Testament to never screw around with grain genetics.

    Now what do we have? Grains (and most food down the line) that are nothing like our ancestors ate and are designed to resist everything under the sun in the field. So, why would they be very different once they reach our gut? Add in the molds that can occur during storage/transport and it gets worse. How about game animals? Well, what if they ingest genetically modified corn, grains, etc? Who even knows.

    This is a very BIG deal, and I think solutions are nil regarding ever getting a totally safe grain or legume. Organic may be close but not perfect by any means.

  15. Mcalvey-

    You seem well intentioned but you are in over your head here amigo. The greatest concentration of celiac are in refugee centers:

    In fact, the main difference between HIV and AIDS is the progression to a leaky guy, of which grains may play a major role:

    HIV Disease Progression: Immune Activation, Microbes, and a Leaky Gut:

    So, I suggested a book, The Vegetarian Myth which addresses the resource allocation questions. All the folks who have concerns in this area…buy the book and read it.


    Glad you liked that.


    As with all this stuff, if the diary works for you good to go. I try to steer folks towards grass fed dairy.

    All-E versions of the book will be out in about a month.


    It’s totally up to you. If you want to tinker and eliminate those foods, go for it. One month later re-introduce and see how you are doing. My point is that folks are consistently surprised by how much better they feel.


    Officially Crossfit endorses the Zone which I find to be an epic fail. I argued against this and was fired for opening my mouth…but the results are pretty clear. If BB is your game I’d olympic lift, sprint and EAT. CF football or the Max effort black-box teplate from Coach Rut would also be beneficial:

    Get big, get powerful, let your sport build your “cardio.”


    The insulin issue is a good way to get people thinking about how metabolic derangement starts, but mechanistically it starts with a loss of satiety signaling (leptin, PYY, CCK, Adipinopectin…). This ultimately DOES relate to carbohydrate intake, particularly fructose but this explains why insulin releasing foods (like protein) do not cause insulin resistance, and in fact are at the heart of reversing insulin resistance because of improved satiety. Read through the Kitava references I had wrote above. The point to take away from that is to avoid insulin resistance caused by grain intolerance.

    One other thought to consider: The vegetarian camp gets quite worked up about low carb diets yet they have been used therapeutically for nearly 100 years to treat epilepsy:

    The ketogenic diet is also being studied in various forms of endothelial derived cancers such as breast, colon, prostate and brain tumors:

    This is for a very specific reason: the primary fuel for cancer is glucose. Starve the cancer of glucose (yes, complex carb count here folks!) and you can not only halt the progression of cancer, but via the process of hormesis you can immunize normal cell against chemo and radiation.

    Finally, and this is always a fun one to spring on dietitians: is therapeutic fasting good for us? Is a calorie restricted diet that make s us lose weight good for us? In general folks will say “yes” but in both of these states we are burning FAT as the primary fuel source!! We are in ketosis and the metabolic state is indistinguishable from a LOW CARB diet.


    I’d direct your dad to the work at Boston University of Dr. Seyfried and Veech:

    Google searches for “ketosis cancer” might also be helpful.


    Pamela’s has a damn good gluten free brownie mix. Perfect for “mass gain protocols.”


    I’m an “A” blood type but eating that way would crush me. Perhaps 1in 40 folks benefit from 15-30mg of GLA/DGLA from primrose or borage oil instead of fish oil in the case of acne. Whether you follow paleo or not you will likely find that helpful

  16. When it comes to diet it amazes me how millions of people simply brush aside the obvious solution in search for “the amazing secrets”. WAKE UP! Thousands of very bright doctors have been studying this stuff for years, and none have reached this person’s conclusion AFAICT. There is no one answer / one culprit / one fix-all! Stop throwing your money away on books and diet plans and gurus. You want me to “save your life” for free? Three steps.

    1. Every day eat a balanced diet (some reasonable combination and reasonable portions of: meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, non-white-breads, dairy, plus a decent amount juice / water / coffee throughout the day). Avoid heavily processed carbs, fast food, and stuff that is loaded with high fructose corn syrup. A couple servings a week isn’t a big deal, a couple a day is a very big deal (what most people -even dieters- do). Seems like everything we do now is out of balance. Our diets, our work schedules, cell phone and tv time. Don’t look for a magic bullet when common sense will serve 95% of us just fine.

    2. Get off your butts and do 30-45 minutes of real exercise every day (or even every other day!). Jog, do push-ups, use gimmicks like p90x, play soccer, go for a swim or bike ride, whatever the heck you want; just get out there and work your heart / lungs / body a little bit each day! You don’t have to be one of these BS fitness clowns on TV; just be active every day. Sweat a little, have some fun, blow off some steam! If nothing else, your skin will look better for it. 😉

    People get fixated on this “hard body” stuff, then get frustrated when they don’t end up looking (anything) like the TV clowns after two months, and quit. We ALL have different body types and only about 30% of us have body types that will allow us to have that perfectly framed physique. The rest of us are going to have to settle for a healthy and toned (but otherwise modestly flawed) physique. Deal with it!

    What Bally doesn’t want you to know: our genes play as big a role in our physiques as which workouts we use. Example: if you’ve always been skinny, even though you eat like a horse and workout a lot, you’re never going to look like a linebacker, so stop obsessing about it. Just be healthy! Same deal if you’ve always been active but a little portly. It’s NOT a big deal. Get your checkups, make sure your blood work is showing good results, but as long as you’re eating well and exercising and feel good, who cares if you’re a little bulkier than the freaks on TV? BE YOU. I don’t know about you guys, but when I’m at the coffee house I don’t want to meet Joe or Jane Hollywood; I want to hang out with a normal human being who is OK with their quirks / can be a little self-deprecating about it. Don’t take this stuff too seriously: none of us are getting out alive.

    3. Make sure you get 5-6 hours of solid sleep a night / don’t be an idiot and run your body into the ground with 70 hour work weeks, unless it’s required to literally feed your family and keep a roof over their head. My hat’s off to you if that’s the case. I couldn’t do it.

    Follow these steps and 98% of you will feel better, lose weight and realize the truth after about 3 weeks: this gluten stuff is a gimmick diet just like all the others. Fixated on one thing that can have very bad side effects, ignoring the obvious (that millions have been eating diets with plenty of this stuff in it all their lives, and are normal, healthy people) and cherry picking their data and examples to sound dramatic. If what this article implies were true, we’d all be dead or gravely ill by age 35. Especially in the United States. Balance and moderation… balance and moderation. Repeat it to yourself.

  17. @Robb:

    As I said, your post really made me thinking, thanks for that.

    Can you please answer this question:

    Someone posted a link to a video by Tim VanOrden above (strg+f and type in ‘protein myth’) where VanOrden says that we actually don’t need protein because our body actually builds it out of amino acids which we can get by eating raw fruit because those are full of enzyms.

    When I heard this I thought about chimpanzees who are much stronger than humans and don’t eat that much meat. This is also true for Bonobos who eat no meat at all. You could argue that this is because they spend all their day climbing, but when you look at Gorillas, who don’t climb that much and are very muscular, it seems to me that what VanOrden says is true. I don’t know that much about the involved chemical processes and I assume that the mentioned species are similar enough to us (which I think is reasonable and probably as justified as comparing ourselves to our paleo ancestors) to justify this conclusion.

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Just a quick note. While it’s true that chimps (our close relatives) eat a majority of fruit, they absolutely hunt and kill other animals. From :

      “Throughout her years of research, Jane Goodall has noted that the Gombe chimpanzees tend to go on “hunting crazes,” during which they would hunt almost daily and kill large numbers of monkeys and other prey (Goodall 1986). The explanation for such binges has always been unclear. My own research has focused on the causes for such spurts in hunting frequency, with unexpected results. The explanation for sudden changes in frequency seems to be related to whatever factors promote hunting itself; when such factors are present to a high degree or for an extended period of time, frequent hunting occurs. For example, the most intense hunting binge we have seen occurred in the dry season of 1990. From late June through early September, a period of 68 days, the chimpanzees were observed to kill 71 colobus monkeys in 47 hunts. It is important to note that this is the observed total, and the actual total of kills that includes hunts at which no human observer was present may be one-third greater. During this time the chimpanzees may have killed more than 10 % of the entire colobus population within their hunting range (Stanford et al. 1994).”

  18. I think this is so important to highlight this kind of stuff. there is more and more obese people here too.

    I remember when I used to be a kid (20 yrs ago), if there was somebody obese, everyone knew that person had some kind of disease. Today it’s so different….

  19. … and there’s always the possibility to look at what professionals (gym trainers and so on) are doing to get and keep a fit and lean body. They tend to say: No carbs. Veggies and lean meat.

    Basically more evidence on the ideas behind this diet.

  20. I’m pretty skeptical of any diet/nutrition advice this sweeping. People’s reactions to it here, and their anecdotal accounts of outcomes, are predictably quite variable. People differ so much in their individual biology that proscriptive approaches like paleo are destined to work great for some and terrible for others, with a muddling of mediocre results between those two extremes.

    It’s anecdotal as well, but tor me, and for many others I know and train with, what’s worked consistently has been a well-balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, a variety of meats and other plant-based and animal proteins, and adequate fiber from grains and legumes, combined with consistent, moderate to high intensity physical activity. I’m middle-aged, as healthy as I’ve ever been, and grains are a regular aspect of my overall diverse diet. I’m not saying paleo doesn’t “work” (to the extent that any diet “works”), but it strikes me as just one possibility among many possible ways of eating.

  21. I stopped reading after GT’s comment. But I saw a lot of good ones. And, I think Erica has an excellent one: gluten is in everything these days. It is extremely hard to cut it out entirely.

    When people cut out bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, they lose weight.

    Processed foods, and foods with sugar tend to be overeaten. Therefore they cause increase in fat, which causes increases in inflammation and SO many other issues. Body fat is one of our main causes of illness and indirect causes of death these days.

    My answer is to eat more fruits and veggies, less of the rest, and stay away from junk.

  22. Hey Tim!

    It was fascinating to read this blog post. I have suffered from IBS as well as “unexplained” infertility for 2 years. Someone suggested to me that I may have Celiacs or a gluten intolerance and so I decided to give it a try. I have been gluten-free (not paleo’s but at least gluten-free) for about 3-4 months now and I feel great! I also just found out that I am 8 weeks pregnant. I will never go back to eating gluten again! Thanks for the informative article!


  23. I have celiac disease and have now been gluten free for years, though still eat corn, rice, quinoa and beans. I am also a vegetarian, so giving up all those things leaves me very little to eat. Happy to hear thoughts, suggestions.

  24. Quick follow-up: Our web-based gluten-free recipe service (glutenfreeweekly[dot]com) does not follow Robb’s suggestions completely, but is easily adaptable to them.



  25. Great post, and a lot to think about.

    I am living with kidney failure (the aftermath of multiple myeloma) and have been eating a largely vegan diet for three years. There are so many weird “no-no’s” on the dialysis diet — the following are discouraged:


    Whole grains


    Potassium rich vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, squash, and tomatoes

    Fresh fruits especially grapes, strawberries, oranges and mangoes


    The dialysis providers do gladly recommend such hearty fare as sugar, candy, white bread, red meat, cooked or canned fruit, artificial creamer and white rice. Go to the DaVita diet “helper” and see for yourself. Makes you wish you could be on dialysis, doesn’t it?

    I’ve already eliminated meat, dairy (for the most part) and beans, potatoes, and all white food. I do eat a LOT of salads and I do eat fresh fruit despite the prohibition. My labs are great, so far, but it’s hard to eat right unless you’re near a Whole Foods store.

    Do you guys consult in Phoenix, and can you take dialysis patients? Most dietitians (except those who work for the dialysis providers) won’t touch my care with a ten-foot pole.

  26. Good stuff, but when I see articles like this it is only SOME of the information and it only gets you part-way to the health answers we all seek.

    About me: I used to be a big fat guy (5’10, 250), who smoked and drank way too much until I read a book that changed my life: Cleanse & Purify Thyself by Richard Anderson ( It’s pretty much everything you ever needed to know about living the most healthy, highest performance life possible–given the filthy world we live in (and the crap we eat), and the corrupt “health care” system we deal with in the west. And this thing is footnoted like crazy with massive amounts of evidence. It changed my life. If it cures your cancer, don’t blame me (or tell the FDA)

    I lost 50 pounds in one month (28 days) and another 35 in the following 3 months as my body went back to homeostasis. And afterwords, cigs and booze had literally zero appeal–negative appeal actually, but give me an organic peach and I’ll tear into it like a death row inmate with a…well, you get what I mean.

    One of the biggest side-effects people report (after feeling lighter, stronger, and more energetic) is that they feel closer to God. I’ll have to agree with that.


    PS–4HWW is the book I recommend (or gift) most. I love the topics you cover here, too.

  27. I went on an elimination diet this summer at the suggestion of my naturopath. Despite initial withdrawal symptoms, I have never felt better. Re-introducing gluten and dairy was rough and I have since been gluten/dairy free.

    On a gluten-free, dairy-free diet I:

    a) have more energy,

    b) think more clearly,

    c) am less bloated, and

    d) hunger pangs have subsided.

    I was shocked to discover that this is the way I’m supposed to feel!!!

    Thanks for the info Tim & Robb.

  28. Curious article, though I’ll agree with others that the writing style tends to turn me off. As a scientist I like my facts with data, cold and hard.

    Here are a couple of rhetorical question for all to ponder: (1) How frequently did our paleolithic ancestors eat? (2) And, how often did they eat meat, in particular. I’m no anthropologist, but my guess would be (1) sparingly, what little they were able to forage and (2) not that often since hunting is a rather energy-intensive endeavor, which often results in failure.

    If true, the conclusion would be that if you REALLY want to follow a paleolithic diet, regular fasting, light snacking (fruit, nuts) and very occasional consumption of meat would be the way to go. Of course, this analysis discounts the diets of our coastal dwelling paleolithic ancestors, who probably benefited from a diet rich in fish. Alas, fish in today’s polluted waters bioaccumulate a lot of bad stuff – so what is a smart, health conscious person supposed to eat?

  29. If you combine all (potentially good) diet advise, you can’t eat anything. I’d like to call this the “you can’t eat anything” paradox. Despite vasts amounts of misinformation and lots of stuff that only effects tiny numbers of people, I’m sure you can make a solid case for not eating almost anything.

    I think there’s a very simple explanation for this paradox.

    In evolution everything is a trade-off between benefits and risks. The job of evolution is to come up with an organism that gets as much valu as possible with limited risks. The more sources of energy (food) we consume, the bigger the risks of poisoning ourselves. More social contacts can be good for your career, but also means you meet more people who want to do you harm. Love is nice, but then there’s STD’s.

    Take the Koala bear as a sad example of this: their main food supply is extremely bad for their teeth. After a few years, they die from starvation because they can’t chew their food anymore. Life is cruel.

    Back to this specific diet suggestion.

    The Paleo diet takes away a number of risks, but this article does not show us the new risks that are introduced. The only way to find those new risks is to study vast present day(!) populations on that diet.

    With rising popularity that experiment is taking care of itself. But it would probably be pretty unethical under normal circumstances.

  30. Also, I’d like his opinion from

    “properly prepared grains they are easier to digest because grains contain phytic acid, a substance that blocks the absorption of nutrients. When grains are soaked, sprouted, and fermented, the phytic acid becomes neutralized and digestion is improved.”

  31. hi tim

    i made the pre order for The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman…..but i cant wait for december !!!!!!!!! in argentina ill´receive it maybe in 27th december!!!

    i really wanto read it now!!!

    thanks a lot for all!!!!!!! you are a source of inspiration for me. and thanks to you a find doonor chose and i feel good to help people ….its amazing!!!!

  32. I’m 28 and was just diagnosed with ulcerative colitis a few months ago. It’s an auto-immune disease that affects my intestines. My doctor says that food isn’t the cause, but I’ve already noticed certain foods REALLY mess me up (so far: rice, pinto beans, corn and peas). Maybe these same foods are the ones that slowly chipped away at my system and I didn’t know it? This article is VERY interesting to me, and think I’ll have to give this diet a try (though i’m still skeptical)–thanks for posting!

    -Jay, Alabama

    1. Jay,

      Several years ago, my wife had a severe attack of UC. Her twin sister previously had her large intestine removed for the same condition. My wife was hospitalized for an extended period, and was close to toxic mega colon. The hospital did nothing for her diet. While drugs slowly helped the bleeding stop, it was slow progress. She had a bruise on her arm that didn’t heal the entire time she was in the hospital. Once out of the hospital, I fed her a special diet with zero gluten, and zero saccharides, other than monosaccharides (think honey). She quickly improved. The bruise on her arm healed. Her frequency of bowl movements dropped daily. She stayed strict with this diet for 6 months before reintroducing foods she loved and didn’t have on that diet. She hasn’t taken drugs for years, and her UC symptoms are pretty much gone. If she has a flare up, she gets strict with her diet, and it immediately clears up. No one will fund a food study like they will a drug study, so we lack the benefit of that kind of information. But we can all try it for ourselves. At the time, I didn’t have this resource at my disposal. I found related information that ultimately led me to a book called Breaking the Vicious Cycle. While it saved my wife’s life, this Paleo diet information explains why. Good luck.

  33. Sounds like a decent diet. As with all diets, avoiding junk food and sticking on track is more important. Giving all things a go, I’m trying the Thrive Diet, which is a whole foods based vegan diet for rock climbers, ironmen, etc. The author recommends sprouting or overnight soaking to remove the indigestibles from grains.

    Vegetarian, vegan, or not, on the point of what we’ve evolved to eat, we should remember that we probably haven’t evolved to adapt to modern refrigeration, allowing us to eat much more meat than our ancestors. Or, in an example in the book “The Mad Cowboy”, our relatives. Chinese Americans down 10 times more meat than their Eastern counterparts – and also have many more health problems to boot.

    As with all things, good in moderation, bad in excess.

  34. Interesting article, have read some similar suggestions from Paul Chek and on TNATION; but I like the detailed background info on digestion. However I am curious about the food preparation practices (like soaking beans), that have evolved over time that could break down some of these plant defences? Are there other practices that we have forgotten or are undiscovered? It amazes me how different cultures are able to eat foods ranging at such extremes ( almost pure fish diet—-to almost entirely plant based diet) and still be healthy. I tried gluten free for 6 months and lost 20lbs however I lost muscle mass as well because I stopped training so my results are confounded. However this article motivated met to give it a try again. I was also wondering if you have a list of carbohydrate that suffice as I was always told that quinoa was ok…..



  35. I’m reposting my comment again as I don’t think the last one showed up properly:

    Wow, where do I begin…It was shocking to learn how grains and beans are killing us in terms of how they are digested and the various chemicals and proteins are harming specific body functions. I have been cutting down on grain and meat (although I eventually want to get rid of grain, beans, and meat entirely) while exercising a lot more since 2010. I heard from a friend that he mixes white rice with brown rice, although I’m doubtful about the intake effects of gluten. What do you think?

    In addiction to the amount of meat (I don’t trust a whole lot of the meat out there as factory farmed garbage is so abundant), I also noticed a fair bit of nut in the content (i.e. danger for those who are allergic). What would you recommend modifying to ensure energy is being refilled while still sticking with the no gluten and lectin diet (or rather Paleo diet)?

    Most importantly, I’m sure there are a fair number of researchers and doctors already confirming this finding. However, people are accustomed to gluten and lectin intakes from grains and beans for ages (thousands of years). In fact, many of them believe that grain and lectin are as healthy as vegetables and fruits to eat as one of the main pillars, on top of government nutritional guides. How would you convey the message of this diet needing to be changed particular if people don’t want to die prematurely, despite ingrained into the conventional belief?

    Thanks for reading this long-winded question,


    P.S. Btw, I’m in the process to become another 4HWW success story. I’ll let you know when I have a video ready once I did get my first dream coming true!

  36. Robb and Tim,

    I have seen many articles on the benefits of Quinoa, for being nutrient packed and gluten free. My wife is gluten intolerant and we enjoy this “seed”. The article touches on the detrimental effects of saponins, but I have not been able to find any studies or articles about this substance being harmful. In fact most information claims saponins are highly beneficial, lowering cholestorol just to name one. Can you point me to any specific research or other findings regarding the negatives of saponins in the body and is your position that the positive benefits do not exist? Is is true that much of the saponins are removed if rinsed thoroughly and properly prepared?

  37. Tim,

    Blood tests- you mentioned them as the best personal “report card” for a given diet. What blood tests have you found as the most credible / best information? (e.g. doctor given test vs. herbalist given test)

    In addition, what type places and/or resources in SF area would you recommend?



    1. Hi Evan,

      I hate to say it, but I don’t trust herbalists much. Too many misdiagnoses I’ve seen in friends. Check out one of the MDs at Clear Center of Health in Mill Valley, just up over the bridge. They’ll get you sorted.


  38. The whole notion of counting calories appears to be a myth as well as the balanced diet..

    You truly don’t need this huge variety of food. I think this stems from the idea of all the competing interests to get people to eat from their particular business. Some people thrive on steaks only. Others could probably thrive on rice or soy milk alone for years.. I think the mind is very powerful and beliefs combined with the appropriate diet for our genetics, we can be invincible.

    Obviously food effects our body’s chemistry so finding appropriate foods that work the best and make you feel the best is key…

    Most anyone can achieve wellness by eating raw living foods. I include meat in this category. The less processed the better.

    Eat soybeans instead of drinking Soy Milk. Rare/Raw Beef vs. Roast Beef. Raw Salads vs. Stir Fry’s. etc..

  39. To those who think that paleolithic man ate little meat, you are mistaken. Recent estimates have the average at around 60% of food calories. Also, recent studies have reasoned that homo sapien could not have evolved such a large brain without the benefit of the dense energy source of animal fats and protein.

    Also, the idea that we should eat like Gorillas is fine until you realize that Gorillas can turn fiber into fat. We do not have this capability.

    Also, Bonobos and Chimps eat their own shit to get more out of digestion. I think you might be able to eat like them if you adopted the practice but I doubt it.

    Check out Barry Groves talk on youtube on how mammals all eat a high fat diet. Or look at the webpage here:

    All of the vegetarian athletes people have linked above, I’m sure, consume vast quantities of brown rice/soy/etc. protein. These are proteins created in a manufacturing plant, using fossil fuels, and a lot of processing. Wouldn’t you rather just eat the cows who concentrate energy and protein in one convenient place (pasture-raised of course) without the need for chemical processing?

  40. Bobc-

    Exactly, so why not give it a shot and report your N=1 experimental findings. Until then it’s all conjecture and start looks like debates between political parties.


    Please read the reference above comparing a Paleo diet and a Mediteranian diet in the resolution of Type 2 diabetes. Paleo completely reversed the condition, Mediterranean did not.

    Jonathan K- Yea, the Tnation dealio was a serious love-fest!


    Your doctor is failing you on the Ulcerative colitis front. Typical, but unacceptable:


    That statement need to be modified along these lines: “phytates and anti-nutrients are REDUCED…” Sprouting reduces problems, but does not eliminate them. Please see my links above on sprouts and Lupus/Rheumatoid arthritis.


    Amazing that a scientist looking for “hard facts” missed the several hundred references listed thus far! It is also intriguing that after calling for “facts” you launch into no small amount of conjecture and decide that meat was a transient food stuff…all while admitting NO anthropological background. What is truly fascinating about all this is if this was a piece about mid 18th century Russian Literature folks would read, perhaps draw some conclusions but no one would claim such sweeping understanding of the topic without actually STUDYING the topic. I guess since everyone eats and we are all human this makes us all experts on human origins and optimal nutrition? Well, to your questions:

    1-Our ancestors tended to eat 1-2x/day. Scarcity was common on the 72 hr time scale but starvation was quite rare until the advent of agriculture:

    (that another repeat from before)

    This is in stark contrast to the body-building/dietetics recommendations of 4-6 meals per day. This is also right at the heart of using evolutionary theory to assess a question: How often should we eat for health? Is eating 6 meals per day better for health than three? The answer lies in our genetic past which seems to indicate some kind of an intermittent fating schedule to be very beneficial for both body composition and health. I’d written about his extensively (some of those references above that you missed) and my friend Martin Berkhan has brought the whole concept to a refined point:

    And three meal trump six meals. I’m having a hell of a time finding that research so I’ll leave that to you to play with.

    Next question: How much/often did we eat meat? In evolutionary biology this question is framed from the standpoint of “optimum foraging strategy.” How much energy does one get per unit cost in expenditure?

    You are in good company in that most people make the incorrect assumption that plant material provides the best return for unit of expenditure:

    But before we get to that you need to consider the general energy cost of the organism and then look at what foods can fill that energy cost:

    What we find is 60-70% of cals come from animal products. It is thermodynamically impossible to fuel these activity levels with available plant foods. The bummer about all this is that I put all this effort into building the case, you will likely shrug, say “I don’t buy it.” without even reading the references…and so it goes. It feels like a conversation with these folks:

    conversation goes like this:

    Me-the earth is round.

    Flat earther-No it’s not.

    Me here is proof.

    Flat Earther-No it’s not…

    Ah well, hopefully it benefits someone!

    Soon to be ex-

    I highly recommend Amy Kubal, an outstanding RD:

    If you’d like me to be cc’d on her correspondence with you I’d be glad to.


    There is a whole world of veggies, fruit, nuts seeds, meats, seafoods… just have to tinker.

    Amanda- Regarding infertility-

    I have a couple hundred testimonials about folks who have run the full gamut of fertility medicine only to get pregnant when doing paleo. good for you.


    This all boils down to do you want to survive or thrive? Can you survive on fruit? Maybe, give it a shot. How do you look, feel and perform? Do paleo, same experiment. The irony here however is your reference completely missed the boat. They are claiming no protein need while saying you get…enzymes(proteins) from fruit! How about the biochemical reality of no essential carbohydrates:

  41. Robbe: I would love to meet the family of the two woman that reversed the early onset of Huntington’s. Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a genetic neurological disorder. When a child is conceived in the womb, they have a 50/50 chance of getting the specific DNA coding from the parent that has HD. I was lucky, I didn’t get it. My father and his 3 brothers were not so lucky. Only 1 brother is alive today.

    I thought this was a great article and I am going to try to go gluten free, but perhaps you should understand what HD is 1st before including it here. Now, if you truly believe you have something here, then please, contact the HDSA (HD society of America) and tell them about it. There are a lot of suffering families that need help right now.

  42. Since I am a HUGE Quinoa lover, reading about the saponin problems put me through the 5 stages of grief in about 3 minutes.

    I may still be in denial.

    Seriously, isn’t there a way to make Quinoa “safe” by soaking it for at least 12 hours and rinsing it thoroughly? That’s what I do with mine, and I eat about 3 cooked cups of Quinoa per day. (What my poor villi must be going through if this saponin info is correct…)

    Quinoa has been a great muscle-building carb source in my diet, and I also do the same with a 1/4 cup of whole oat groats. Soak, rinse and blend in my vitamix every morning.

    I do a lot of dietary experimentation, so I will try removing Quinoa and getting those carbs from potatoes and sweet potatoes for a couple of months, keeping track of any improvements in energy levels and strength in the gym.

    Thanks for an eye-opening post, even if it’s a real pisser… (slipping back from denial into anger…) 🙂

  43. I was under the impression that you knew Nassim Taleb? He’d explain to you why this handful of studies(all of which you can find being contradicted quite easily by other studies) are worse than worthless, and why using personal anecdotes is the same as throwing your argument off a cliff.

    Anyway, to anyone reading the above post, if you wanted actual evidence then what you’d want to look for is a meta-analysis with a couple hundred studies, that’s the minimum of what you can call evidence when talking about epidemiological studies. Anything less and you’ll most likely end up fooled by randomness, if you will. Needless to say, this evidence does not exist, or it would have been posted instead of vague references to minor studies with minor results.

    And yes, our ancestors 10k years ago did not eat much grain, but we’re nothing like(most of) our ancestors and we have, in fact, evolved to be able to digest gluten/lactose that would have made most of them quite sick.

  44. Tim! Tell me that last post did not get lost!

    Folks who are concerned with eating too much animal protein could likely get by on about .5g protein/lb BW and then just eat the heck out of good fats (coconut at the top of my list…don’t let the saturated fat monster scare you) and starchier roots, tubers and squash. Round out with fruit and other fats, you will be fine. I think an endurance athlete could do well on this, a power athlete might struggle, and a bodybuilder…Well, I’d stay out of the speedos.


    Rinse the heck out of it, that will decrease saponins. It does still contain protein fractions that can react with celiac…again, I just recommend experimentation and go from there:

    If it’s not a problem, no worries. For many though it’s not a benign food. BTW-I love quinoa, rice, lentils and beans, I eat a little most weeks, I just keep consumption below a point where I get problems.

  45. @Cameron Day

    They bred a low saponin strain of quinoa, but the birds ate it all before they could harvest. Normally quinoa has a high enough saponin content to keep the birds away. Washing/soaking quinoa is going to reduce the saponin content, but I’m not sure what the levels are at after that, I’d be interesting to see some hard numbers.

    Tubers are great, there are so many varieties of sweet potatoes and yams out there to try. However, if trying a saponin-free diet, you need to avoid potatoes, as they contain saponins. The majority of the saponins in potatoes are in the skins, so if you do eat them, peel them. Loren Cordain recently published some numbers on saponin content in potatoes in his newsletter.

  46. Tim,

    I am interested in the gallon of whole milk per day plan, but what do you suggest for people who don’t tolerate milk well?

  47. In the begining of the article you say you will address corn later, and it is never addressed. Also you mention leaving dairy out of you diet, why? Also if your body does not illicit a response to gluten why go gluten free? Thanks for the article it does bring up some interesting points.

  48. Great post, thanks. I wish the statements were backed up with more scientific evidence. Are there any serious studies on the subject?

    Animal protein can harm too. Nowadays, meat and chicken are so full of pesticides they get from soil and grains. Saltwater fish is polluted with mercury and other heavy metals. This pretty much leaves freshwater fish like trout, tench and tilapia. But, still, one has to make sure they come from clean water.

    Not many people now that avocado has 30% content of easily digestible protein. Love it. Try mixing banana and avocado. Yummy.

    I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and every time I cross the line, it lets me know immediately. And crossing the line for me is coffee, alcohol, soft drinks and anything with gluten.

  49. Saturated fat is better than carbohydrates, but not better than unsaturated fat. If the only way you can replace your morning toast is with saturated fat, go for it. If you want to be really healthy, replace it with unsaturated.

  50. i <3 robb wolf.

    i'd also like to point out that beans are a third world protein.

    the good fight will continue, as those who refuse to actually measure current information against current folk lore will remain "invincibly ignorant" (sorry about that robby. its the truth though).

  51. Much appreciation for this post. I’ve been avoiding grains simply as an effort to lose weight, but reading this post was like watching the very graphic STD video in health class – I’m scared to death!

    Seriously though, I’ve had a couple of pretty severe reactions to brown rice in the past. Even though I recognized it was probably not good for me, I would still eat it every once in a while. Its like I needed the full picture before I would really believe it wasn’t good for me.

    And of course I read it on Tim’s blog… go figure.

    Thanks man. Keep up the good work.

    – Bret

  52. I have been doing a version of this, intuitively, for about 6 months and have never felt better. As an experiment ate. a “healthy muffin” from my local health food store, came home and fell asleep for 3 hours. It was like being drugged. Very interesting.

    My choice is to eat ground bison meat. I live in the west and so it is easy to get. Also start my day with fresh ripe fruit and about 5 teaspoons of plain yogurt. Have an omelet about twice a week.Use nuts through out the day. Occasionally some pieces of parmesan cheese. Also use a supplement of Wachter’s Liquid Chlorophyll in water- made from 3 different types of seaweed.

    Very refreshing and great blood purifier and nourisher for the intestines.

    Do not have any desire for chocolate or sugars. If i do want something sweet, I might have a touch of maple syrup as a condiment. I also think the use of Sea Salt is very important. Americans are so afraid of salt. Can’t wait to read Rob’s book.

  53. Ive been eating a “gluten free” & “wheat free” rice bread from “Food for Life”. I typically use this after my workouts as my carb source and occasionally with my eggs during breakfast.

    Anything wrong with this? Since its wheat and gluten free I figured it was a good choice

  54. I eat Paleo with the exception of Fibre One cereal, which is grain based, and I feel fantastic. I also eat cottage cheese- which sometimes gives me a headache, but after a day with it, I feel fine. It’s a convenient source of protein. Are Fibre One and cottage cheese bad for you? My body and stools would disagree, but if anyone has theories for me, I’d love to hear them. I have more energy, excitement, and joy in my life than nearly anyone I know. I’m healthy, strong, and athletic.

    In medicine we talk about “Gold standard testing”, and as Robb said with his biopsy talk of type 1 diabetes problem, we should be seeing anti-transglutaminase antibodies in the microvilli. If we don’t see them, are we fine?

    There is a site here- Tim, this type of biological testing is up your ally:

    A private lab by a legit gastroenterologist, with legit credentials. The testing they have includes anti-gliadin stool test, anti-tissue transglutaminase stool test, intestinal malabsorption test, gluten sensitivity gene test, milk, egg, yeast and soy sensitivity stool tests. I’m thinking about getting this done with all the gluten and milk debate. Tim, let me/ us know if you’ve looked into this kind of testing, and if it was worthwhile for you.

    I’m going to talk to my friendly neighbourhood MD/PhD supremely well published gastroenterologist, and will report back with my findings :).

    BTW I thought Robb’s comments to Leigh were rude. Tim, moderate that!



  55. Robb, I have a tough one for you: what say you to the gluten- and dairy-intolerant microscopic colitis crowd (different from ulcerative colitis) who can’t yet tolerate raw fruits and veggies and whose guts can’t yet absorb a lot of fat…? But who are underweight and need to put on the pounds?

    I’ve been on this paleo thing for a month and feel okay, but I’m hungry a LOT even though I feel like I eat a ton (meat, fish, eggs, well-cooked veggies, and bananas). I’m trying to gain weight (in general, and build muscle ala Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint) but can’t seem to get past the 105 – 107 lb. range (I’m a 5’6″ female, naturally slim). It’s tough to get a lot of calories, especially when I can’t eat really fatty things (avocados, nuts or nut butters, etc.) or raw fruits or veggies. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  56. Few things: One please get the book into audio form. I listen to books from including Tim’s four hour work week. Being an audible learner, I really retain it best when heard. Also, if you have some graphs or other reference material, please allow it for download on audible. So many Author’s miss this. It is very hard to bookmark each great idea in a book.It is wonderful to be able to go back and reference it. I will buy the book too, but not have to much time to sit there and read it.

    Recenlty, I started drinking Raw whole milk from organicgrass fed only cows and eggs from organic free range chickens, with local raw honey(unfiltered) to replace my protien shakes. I got pretty chubby pretty quick. I started skimming the milk, and while the shakes are great and I feel full and have had lots of benefits, I am still struggling with how milk plays into all this.

    I am 6 ft and about 225. I am extremely active and need healthy calories through out the day. Shakes are an easy way for me to carry food with me. I saw others ask about whey and other supplements, and I have seen no response. If I missed It I am sorry. My diet consists of mostly meat, bison, grass fed beef, and chicken or turkey. I love wild salmon and I eat alot of greens, every once in a while I drink a coke, but other than that, it would seem that I follow this diet, with the exception of the “milk” and possible the whey. Please let me know if it is in the book, if so when you get the audio version I will learn then. If not, are my shakes compliant and what is the main concern with milk/cheese/dairy especially yougurt and supplements like whey?

    Also, I have been learning alot about Bison from the Owners of Sayersbrook Bison Ranch. The guy is in his 80 and eats what I would call a paleo diet (sans red wine of course) but he has told me about some fairly significant differences in the quality of meat, and most specifically Bison. I try hard to eat healthy meats, what are your criteria for sourcing buying meats? Skip’s is, if I didn’t grow it, I don’t eat it. Which is good for him, being fairly wealthy and all. He did build his own bison ranch… But what about the rest of us. I live in the Mid-west and spend about 400.00 per month on food for just me. I am frugal and shop for the best quality at the best price, but it seems this would come at a cost too?

    Do you have a nationwide list of food source providers that meet your criteria? Do you have any bulk pricing etc? I feel alot of us are searching for honest food providers that want to earn a living providing the best, maybe we can put a co-op together over the web to create one if it does not already exist.

    Lastly, I starting eating the raw local organic unfiltered honey. I can’t imagine this could have a negative effects, but since I am new to this and learning, I am asking.

    Thank you very much for all your help. Thank you Tim for sharing this work with me. I would have never seen it otherwise. Rob, I greatly appreciate all the work you are doing. Little by little guys like you can help educate the world and create a more sustainable healthy food chain.

    Thanks Again,

    John Paul Daley II

  57. Tim,

    The bit about corn was left out because the article above was just a part of one chapter from Robb’s book. Corn and beans are addressed in later chapters.

  58. @ Ben or Ciroc (grape derived)

    @ Steven Don’t think anyone 20 years ago was gluten free? Guess again. My grandfather was gluten intolerant and had to completely cut gluten from his diet. My grandmother came up with a wonderful pie crust because of that.

    @ Tim Hey, I noticed what you’d said in the article about soaking the beans and that helping to counter some of issues. I think the confusion for some of your readers comes from the less than clear phrasing. In other words, put it in layman’s terms Tim. Great topic though.

  59. I wonder: if you was to live gluten free, don’t eat pasta, rice etc., how the hell do you go to friends or families for dinner parties? It would have a huge impact of your social life which, in my opinion, just isn’t worth it. I don’t have any serious problems (that I am aware of) with the foods discussed in this post, but if I were to cut them out in order to try live a healthier lifestyle it would seriously effect my ability to enjoy social settings that involve eating delicious food. I’m curious how Tim et al handle this issue?

    1. Hi Kevin,

      I do cheat on occasion, but I try and schedule these types of dinners for my Saturday, which is the “off” day anyhow. Otherwise, I just let them know beforehand that I can’t eat grains or starch. So far, zero problems. Then again, I live in SF, and everyone is used to “I’m a vegan” or “I’m on Atkins” or “I only eat local organic” or whatever. Still, I haven’t found it socially restricting.

      Good luck!


  60. Hi Tim,

    I love most of the material in this article. Eating too much grain products can create huge fluctuations in blood sugar levels that adversely effect your health level.

    I do disagree with his method of proving the adverse effects of gluten by taking 30 days off then eating some bread. Of course, you will feel terrible because after 30 days, your body ceases to produce enzymes used in the process of breaking down the grain and you get very sick. The thing is that the same thing would happen if I went on an Atkins diet of no carbs for 30 days and ate an apple. Or… I became a vegan for 30 days and ate beef. Which means that I could use his same test in a different way and come to a totally different conclusion.

    We, Americans, definitely have a eating crisis, but I think we need to severely reduce the amount of carbs in our diets. Moderation and Variation is the key to a proper diet.

    1. Good observation on the enzymes, Tim. This is, to my knowledge, true. Feeding a vegan who isn’t producing enough elastin a steak would have a similar effect. I do think shorter-term experiments can be useful, if done before enzyme down-reg, and the removal itself (not reintroduction) can also be helpful by itself.



  61. Thanks Tim and Robb for your replies.

    I was wondering how this diet would work with pregnant women and young children (3 y.o and 1 y.o). Is it recommended for them to follow this diet? If so, what kind of adjustments can be made?



  62. Great post Tim. Makes sense to me. I noticed that I felt . . . “fresher” when I was on a cutting diet and removed grains/legumes/dairy and was eating mainly vegetables, fish, chicken, nuts and EFAs. I was curious as to why that was. This might be the answer.

    I’m back to bulking again and consuming massive amounts of skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, whey protein, and legumes (as well as lean meat, vegetables, nuts and EFAs). My staple meal is an extra lean ground turkey chili with legumes and peas. Udo’s choice DHA CLA oil added in to each serving after it’s cooked.

    I have the same question as a couple other people. How do you do this while bulking? Is it necessary to cut milk and legumes in order to see at least some of the benefits? Is yogurt that is low in lactose better?

    Most importantly: do whey and casein count as harmful dairy?

    My best,


  63. I have mixed feelings about the information here… basically, you lost me when you started to “knock” Oatmeal and Quinoa.

    I see sugar as the real problem. When I go without sugar for sometime that has the single most positive improvement on my well-being. I also can’t argue against the rich, hearty, happy feeling I get from my bowl of Steel-cut oatmeal in the morning.

    As far as gluten, yes, I would agree that it can be bad if there is too much of it in the diet. But the same rings true for many things– moderation is key.

    Food as we knew it 25 years ago has all but ceased to exist. I would argue that our best defense is to evolve and adapt–mind, body, and soul! Eat a reasonable and varied diet, get exercise, take in fresh air and sunshine every one in a while, find a very strong loyal support network, and enjoy a happy life!

    PS: and take resveratrol (one without the Emodin content, or other “filler”).

  64. Tim, you’re brilliant. And you have a lot of brilliant people commenting here.

    The thing about being educated is – the more we know, the more we know we don’t know. You know?

    I’m wary of this post because it’s really extreme, and I veer away from extremism, especially when it comes to diet and exercise. I used to be an extremist (and followed many an extreme diet plan) until I went to school for nutrition, exercise physiology and metabolism and learned how the body digests and processes food. Surrounded by professors that had a combined experience of over 100 years in studying this stuff, I felt I got a pretty good idea about how things work. I learned how to look for research-based evidence, and became much more moderate after becoming more educated. The body is an amazing thing and it can do SO much more than we could ever imagine.

    Extremism never works long term, and it ends up being overtaken by the next extreme idea. Remember the steak and egg roller coaster? Parents of the baby boomers that could afford it were feeding their children eggs and meat every day for breakfast because they were told it was the healthiest thing they could do for their children’s growth. When these boomers grew up and they and their parents started to get hardening of the arteries, the egg was laid to blame, and everyone felt bad and duped. Now, the egg is harmless again, it doesn’t cause high cholesterol and we found there are natural emulsifiers in the egg itself. What a swing from left to right and back! This happens with many foods, and many diet fads.

    How do we not get swept up in these things? Everything in moderation. If we’re moderate, we don’t have to worry about being poisoned by this or that, we get to have a little of what we like, and we don’t ride the roller coaster of fear and blame that extreme plans create.

    If people could just start to be moderate – and not eat crazy amounts of certain foods simply because they can – so many people would find themselves healthier. And, eating as many foods in their natural state as possible – not processed, and not adulterated with added unhealthy crap that restaurants like to add- one wouldn’t believe how good the body can feel! I know 🙂

    Of course, there are those that have true problems digesting certain foods. But it’s not the same for everyone.

    The Paleo diet has been around for a while. A long list of Pro’s and Con’s and arguments similar to the ones found on this page can be found on wikipedia:

    Tim, I’ve recommended the 4-hr work week to many clients and friends. I think you’re brilliant in the business and marketing world… Ya know!

  65. Hi, I find these things very interresting, but it also makes me worried.

    I am a vegan myself, so therefore I practically live on lentils, soybeans, and fruits & veggies. But I do eat stuff like bread and pasta.

    What worries me is the pieace about the legumes you wrote, since I would find it impossible to ever eat meat again.

    Are the lentils and the beans really that horrible to my body?

    I don’t know what else to eat.

    But at least I keep away from the dairies.

    Love my soymilk!

  66. Mario-

    Good stuff.

    BMACK!! Thank man. I miss hanging out, I hope all is well with you.

    Regarding Quinoa-

    I think folks are skimming the excerpt and not getting that grains and grain like substances use these anti-nutrients to prevent critters like birds (and us) from eating them. Kameron mentioned a low saponin quinoa that did not make it to market because the birds ate it! Here is a fun one: Quinoa saponins are used as a pesticide, right form the FDA:…/brad_097094.pdf

    Bon Appetite!


    UCLA and UCSD are setting up trials on Huntington’s disease and a gluten free diet. I am fully aware of the DNA base-pair repeat nature of this disease. What no one understands yet is the precipitating event for disease propagation appears to be environmental, and likely from grains.

    BTW- The HD society has been notified of this. About 2 years ago. You can wait for the governmental agencies to explore this of you can simply try it and see how disease state is affected.

  67. Please address the Chinese diet because it seems like a big hole in your work. Though I’ve learned much from your article, I can’t give it my full attention unless the obvious is addressed.

    China alone has survived on rice for hundreds of years. It saved their country’s population from starving. Their food language is based on rice (wu fan = lunch rice, wan fan = dinner rice, etc…)

    I can’t say Chinese are healthier and live long but it is general perception. Westerners are an easy target for this article because we eat an incredible amount of refined grains. I myself love not eating them. They make me sleepy.

    (btw: the comment by a previous poster on India’s older generation getting big bellies has nothing to do with grain–strong bet. It’s called curry. They eat a lot of it and it can be extremely fattening.)

  68. Hey, all people here who’ve researched food and stuff, has someone been able to discover a link between certain foods and acne?

    In literature there seems to be a link with dairy products and a high-glycemic index diet.

    Or the effect of dairy is a very slow one or it is only an aggravating factor (i’m diary-free for 6 months and still have acne though it seems to diminish).

    I’m very interested in your responses.

    David L.

  69. Whooop!

    How I love to see someone else eat the way I eat, for the same reasons, but do so much better a job of explaining why. A lot of mates and family members have been forwarded this info. Assuming your skin is intact (ie you are not a major burn victim) gut health and your ability to absorb nutrients is next on the list of importance for good immunity. I learned the hard way.

    Robb, outstandingly well presented info mate. Thank you! Generally I eat nearly identical to the way Tim does, but the beans/legumes is one area where we differ (though I should add he has made it work very well for him).

    What are your thoughts on pulling out ALL common food allergens (grains/dairy/eggs/corn/soy) for the 30 days and then adding them back in slowly to tolerance? (Leaving the grains out permanently however)? Obviously you eat eggs, how pro are you on wild corn? Put dairy back in if tolerated or bin it? Or should I just shut up and read the book?

    btw I recommend you connect with registered nutritionist and strength coach Cliff Harvey, who beat Crohn’s through diet and went on to achieve a few world records for feats of strength, he has also helped some pretty elite athletes move past GI and immune issues through diet. More happy real world evidence for you, I think you two will get on.

    And it amazes me that on a blog dedicated to experiments in life style design, that so many people are fighting tooth and nail to protect their current eating paradigm, instead of just EXPERIMENTING with it for a month.

    Kudos to your patience Robb and for being so generous in your responses.

    Tim, thanks for putting this through in a blog post. Can’t wait for that new book! Please let us know when we can pre order.


    1. Thx, Christoph. Just to emphasize a good point you make:

      “And it amazes me that on a blog dedicated to experiments in life style design, that so many people are fighting tooth and nail to protect their current eating paradigm, instead of just EXPERIMENTING with it for a month.”

  70. One thing I haven’t seen on here re: comments about veganism. Veganism isn’t just a dietary issue; it’s also a moral and ethical platform. For ethical vegans, it’s not a question of just eating an animal once in a while…you’re essentially asking us to violate some of our most deeply held beliefs. It’s akin to asking an Atheist to take communion at Christmas.

    That said, there are gluten-free vegans. And that is a far better way to approach vegans than to ask them to consume animals.

  71. This is a brilliant piece. I’ve been exploring the CKD and paleo diet over the last few months and feel much better. I’ve had longtime digestive problems and find that dairy, gluten grains, and legumes are really hard on me. That said, as an endurance athlete who cycles over 200 miles a week, I’ve been struggling in the anaerobic threshold (and above) zone, no doubt due to issues with glycogen levels.

    Since I’m a bit of a purist, I’d rather not do this, but I have been contemplating having two meals a week where I just big-time carb load on white rice, since this has the least allergic tendency of any of the grains, as far as I know, just so I could pack in some serious glycogen.

    Not sure how else to deal with this issue, and would love any good ideas! Other than that, this blog is spot on and the paleo diet really makes sense given that so many people have significantly compromised digestive terrains and immune systems these days due to anti-biotic use, long-term poor diets, etc, etc.

  72. Since many people have brought up the virtues of different diets (Mediterranean, etc) in regard to this blog, it might be wise to contemplate the fact that it is not so much the foods, in themselves that are bad for us, but the fact that humans, in their current state of de-evolution, can no longer handle eating them: what was once nourishing, is now a poison.

    Grains, legumes, and dairy, have, for thousands of years been utilized as foods by the majority of people on this planet. Note that traditionally, these foods were almost always processed in some way (fermentation, sprouting, etc) to reduce their anti-nutrient load and increase digestability. Japanese painstakingly fermented soybeans for years to make miso, not because they had a lot of time on their hands, but because they recognized that soybeans were toxic unless they prepared them that way. Tofu was monkfood because it was recognized that the phytoestrogens killed the sex drive. Soy was never meant to be consumed as it is now. Likewise, grains were always naturally leavened and soured. So was milk.

    Since the rise of antibiotic use last century, we have been conducting an unprecedented experiment on ourselves: we have taken an intact gut ecosystem and immune system and essentially subjected it to something akin to clear cutting a forest. It is at this point that “leaky gut” syndrome and all the other problems begin. And once they begin, it becomes a vicious cycle that is almost impossible to rectify, hence they need for some many of us to revert to paleo-styled diets. Mothers, with compromised immunity and gut flora, pass this imbalanced flora onto their babies (many whom are bottle fed), also given antibiotics over and over as children, and the cycle continues, worse with each generation, hence the rise of autism and so many other rapidly emerging disorders.

    The problem is not the food, it is the digestive terrain of most modern humans; a terrain that is so compromised that foods that were formally at least neutral, if not healthful, are now the sources of auto-immunity, dysbiosis, etc, etc. It’s great to find a diet you can eat (paleo, etc), but better to see the bigger picture…

  73. Undiagnosed celiac disease could certainly be a factor in many conditions. Whenever I see a man with osteoporosis, it’s the first thing that comes to mind.

    I have been on a gluten free diet for 7 years because of celiac disease. Millet is gluten free – one of my favorite (occasional) gluten free treats is a millet/teff wrap that is certified gluten free.

    Thanks for spreading the word on the gluten free diet.

  74. Bob Limbach,

    I believe my leaky gut syndrome was caused by Quinoa saponins. I was eating the stuff religiously. Basing every meal off it (breakfast too!). And guess what? I never washed it. Today I sent an e-mail to the manufacturer to ask if they pre-rinse it…I have a feeling I know the answer….

    Anyway, I urge anyone who likes Quinoa to PLEASE PLEASE rinse it. It takes no time compared to the amount of time I waste in the bathroom these days. It is ridiculous. Not to mention how crappy I feel. I am trying to recover using L-glutamine but the results have been questionable.

    And if you’re wondering, I have already been to the doctor. They ran blood tests, and a stool sample to rule out a number of things. The next step is a Colonoscopy, which I’m gonna wait on for now.


  75. Hi Tim. Great post. Timely for me too. I just wanted to share my frustration with doctors here, hoping for a break. Suicidal thoughts have subsided, but my gut seems irreparable still.

    I’m 30 and have been suffering from a host of intestinal issues for about 4 months, beginning with a hospitalization following an intense episode of constipation with accute intestinal pain. Divierticuli and irritated colon found. This episode followed a binge session of Brazilian picanha meat (6 slices), which I obviously couldn’t digest.

    Following my release from the hospital, the doctor restricted my diet, initially to mostly soups, bread, jam, papaya, chicken, among others. No milk, no fiber, no coffee, no alcohol. Constipation remained an issue and the pain persisted.

    This substandard nutrition and the social implications of not eating almost anything and not drinking drove me to unhealthy levels of anti-social behavior, and of course, depression.

    Not to overwhelm you with details, four moths on, I have recovered some of my physical strength by eating soy protein, but my gut is messed up still.

    I’m a big fan of all you do, (bought the 4hww in print, audio and kindle versions!) and will certainly do the same with your next book.

    I saw 4 doctors in all, and the problem is still there. If you have any thoughts on the matter please let me know. I will be forever grateful.

    1. Hi Juan,

      I’m no doctor, but Robb may have some thoughts here. I’d suggest speaking with your doctor about using L-Glutamine to help repair things (if it’s a leaky-gut-related issue). Consuming 10g at a time up to 5 times a day is not unheard of. BUT, speak with your doc first. I’m not an MD. In addition, I would find a different source of protein if you can handle it (whey would be better), as soy can mess you up at even moderate doses.

      Good luck,


  76. Tim, you mention a few times the need for blood tests but don’t explain what tests or what information someone should be looking for from the tests.

    The other thing that’s not clear here is how this differs from atkins?

    PS: Most of the saponin content in the outer shell quinoa is removed on washing. Otherwise it’s bitter.

  77. @Robb Wolf –

    As for how many meals a day is best for anabolic gain, indeed the 4-6 modern ideal is way off in terms of how people ate historically. We think about calories, about “protein grams” but we ignore the influence of diet – both what we eat and WHEN WE EAT on hormones.

    I’m a big fan of Ori Hofmekler and The Warrior Diet, who proposes just one very big meal a day in the evening. This is kind of like the CKD in one day. One fasts during the day (or eats one or two very small, low glycemic meals) which turns on cAMP via fasting, and its anabolic benefits; in the evening, with one very large meal, one can replace low glycogen, and keep metabolism high by eating a large amount of calories – undereating all the time will lower thyroid and metabolism.

    It’s fascinating, and I find that eating “paleo-warrior” style, which is mainly fasting during the day, feasting at night, and once or twice a week having a big carb binge, is working pretty good for me

  78. Re: fire…it’s pretty uncontroversial that domesticated fire goes back at least 100,000 years. More recently some people have been saying it could go back as far as a million, and played a major part in human evolution.

    Meanwhile we learned to digest milk in 10,000 years, so even the shorter estimate for fire is a fair amount of time to adapt to cooked foods.

    A typical hunter-gatherer would still eat a healthy portion of food raw, though, just because it’s so much more convenient when you’re wandering around in the woods and don’t have matches. Snacks growing everywhere, the original fast food.

  79. Great post. I’m gluten intolerant myself and found out only about 1 year ago. Changed my diet and feel fine ever since (more energy, sick much, much less often…)

    It is interesting to learn, that I’m not the weird one out, but that it’s rather the ‘aggressive’ grains that should be avoided, I just have seemed to notice more strongly. I guess good for me that my doctor found out and put me on a gluten-free diet.

    It’s actually easier than you think to follow-up.

    However, I must say, that your one-week meal plan sounds a bit like an Atikins-diet – lots of meat….

  80. I think this kind of diet is necessary for people who are having problems and they are looking for answers.

    Life is about enjoyment. Live, love, and learn and you’ll be happy. Now, bad health can wreak havoc with this ideal. If your health is holding you back from living life to the fullest, then by all means search for answers. Maybe gluten-free is the answer for you.

    I am a healthy 40-something man, who could stand to lose 20 pounds to be at the ideal weight. I enjoy life. Pizza and beer with my buddies. Or a nice veal parmigiana with penne pasta, some Italian bread with olive oil and grated cheese, some steamed green beans, topped off with a good red wine and some dessert. Plenty of stories and laughs all evening. This is a form of paradise one can easily have over and over (just not every day).

    Some of my friends run marathons and Iron Man races. They have no problem with all the pasta and other wheat products. They eat with gusto and are not afraid of holding their own at the bar. I love playing sports and riding my bike.

    Why would my friends and I give up the foods we love if we are healthy, happy and fulfilled? The cost of denying ourselves this blissful happiness is not worth the sacrifice of feeling like we’re denying ourselves some of the finer things in life.

    If gluten-free has miraculous effects for some people, that is awesome. But let’s not paint everyone with the same brush.

  81. Tim –

    Just to clarify, it is controversial in the field of zoology whether the predatory habits of chimpanzees are nutritionally based. For those who are interested, chimpanzees are the only animals besides humans and wolves who commit genocide/warfare against their own kind, and will happily kill columbus monkeys without eating them, in the same way that lions will kill young/weak/injured hyenas, leopards, and cheetahs without eating them. The killing behaviors of chimps are not necessarily based on food procurement, so they don’t make a very good argument for the “we are evolved to eat this way” position; it is highly possible that their hunting binges are cultural “ethnic cleansings” if you will, rather than nutritional necessities. In other words, chimpanzees are just emulating the most disturbing of human impulses when they massacre columbus monkeys – they are destroying weaker creatures for no real reason, other than their desire to kill. The eating of the bodies is seen by some zoologists/primatologists as a sign of animal ritual practices.

    In short: The killing of columbus monkeys and other smaller, weaker primates by chimpanzees is most likely competition for territory and food (again, such as exists between lions and other large African predators) or, taking the chimpanzee’s intelligence into account, as a violent communal sacrifice/display.

    From the same study you quoted earlier:

    “In his study of Gombe chimpanzee predatory behavior in the 1960’s, Geza Teleki considered hunting to have a strong social basis (Teleki 1973). Some early researchers had said that hunting by chimpanzees might be a form of social display, in which a male chimp tries to show his prowess to other members of the community (Kortlandt 1972). In the 1970’s, Richard Wrangham conducted the first systematic study of chimpanzee behavioral ecology at Gombe and concluded that predation by chimps was nutritionally based, but that some aspects of the behavior were not well explained by nutritional needs alone (Wrangham 1975). Toshisada Nishida and his colleagues in the Mahale Mountains chimpanzee research project reported that the alpha there, Ntilogi, used captured meat as a political tool to withhold from rivals and dole out to allies (Nishida et al. 1991).”

    Here’s further information about chimpanzee violence:

    “The adult males of a social group, which usually number about 30 to 50 in size, daily patrol the edge of their group’s territory. They will often kill any male or young chimpanzees they find, sometimes eating or physically brutalizing their victims in a manner that some researchers liken to torture. In some instances, one group will “invade” and annex the territory of another, killing all but the adult females, who are forced to incorporate into the dominant group.”

    Not exactly a species we should try to emulate, poop-chucking aside.

    1. Hi Kellye,

      Thanks for the comment. Just to be clear, I was just pointing out that chimps kill other animals and do eat meat, but I wasn’t using it for the human “we evolved this way” argument, though I do believe our GI tracts are well-designed for it.