Real Life Faileo Dieters


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Chris Masterjohn's review of The New Evolution Diet was nicer than mine. Luckily for Chris, he already knows about the wonders of butter and egg yolks. But what happens when a normal person reads a lipid-phobia ridden paleo book?

An Outside Magazine reporter tried to follow one such book, focusing on lean meats and non-starchy vegetables. Here is how he felt:

  • "It's tough to exercise when you're hungry all the time."
  • "I spent all but the last two weeks of this diet feeling seriously underfueled—tired, spacey, and hungry."
  • "I grew so tired of the approach that boredom or upset stomachs would end meals before I had eaten enough."
  • "Woke up with a hunger way beyond what the fruit and vegetables in my house could cover."
  • "there's just no way I'm going to stick to a plan that leaves me hungry and tired all the time."

Such is the unfortunate plight of the faileo. Faileo dieters are rare because most succumb to extreme hunger in just a few days, similar to how cavemen who refused to eat fatty brain starved and died on the plains of Africa millions of years ago. It's actually a great example of evolution at work! Since Americans are so uneducated about evolution, perhaps faileo diet proponents are providing an important service.

But what about faileo diet proponents themselves? I've seen some hilarious meals on their plates like egg white omelettes with bacon bits. Hmm. I suspect most are eating a high fat diet without realizing it because they don't know much about meat. 

But they sow their delusion everywhere. Like this Time piece where the reporter must have been talking to some serious faileos:

There's no doubt that something is way off about our collective health; rampant rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes make that self-evident. And there's no doubt that this is a direct result of our high-fat, high-calorie, sedentary lives.

Otherwise the piece is quite interesting. I like how they have well-respected physical anthropologist Dan Lieberman quoted alongside non-anthropologists who think they are qualified to preach on human evolution.

I think you won't find many anthropologists to speak on the matter because the truth is that for most of our history, the homo species were very rare. Few actual remains have been found and there are multiple theories on the role of food in our evolution. For example, Richard Wrangham believes tubers spurred our evolution into the big-brained upright-walking ape. Dan is from the persistence hunting school of thought. I've also blogged about the idea that marine foods were the catalyst. My own pet theory is that the high-fat reservoirs of the head and bones were the truly important foods for our evolution as a species, but I'll blog more about that later.

I don't think that theory will ever be in Time magazine because it competes with the "Man The Hunter" spiel that has been generally rejected by anthropology, but which lives on in pop culture. Chris mentions anthropologist Katherine Milton, who is a big proponent of the importance of plants in evolution. Despite being an anthropology expert with a Phd and many published papers, I doubt you'll ever see her in such an article because she doesn't fit into the macho man meaty story reporters want to tell. 

As for the faileos, most will read their books, follow the diet, be miserable, and go back to eating SAD without ever knowing the value of foods like tallow or liver.