Angelo also blogs a bit at Humans are not Broken. I've always liked that Angelo doesn't get stuck in the "24 hour newscycle" that a lot of blogs get caught in, jumping from headline to headline trying to keep ahead of the competition, but struggling to remain relevant.
Angelo's latest brainchild is a series he's putting together to focus on a high-fiber, gut healthy diet that does not use meat and fat as the backbone. He's calling this "Plant Paleo," (click link for an intro), and also wrote a blog, part 1 of a series, to explain his thoughts: Plant Paleo Part 1: The Gatherer-Hunter Diet.
And here you can check him out 'up close and personal' in a very brave photo-shoot.
Angelo would probably be mad if I just cut and pasted the whole plan, so let me just show you the first couple steps from the Plant Paleo link:
The Plant Paleo approach is dominated by whole foods. It is informed by the evolutionary clues left for us by our ancestors, and it is in harmony with much of the scientific evidence we have about diet and health. By design, it is an omnivorous, nutrient-dense diet that is considerably higher in plant foods than animal foods (like the diets of many hunter-gatherers and healthy populations around the world). It contains an abundance of natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber.
He goes on to give some guidelines, which are, as he stressed several times, nowhere near finalized and still evolving:
- Eat mostly organic plant-based foods as your staples.
- Eat small servings of naturally and ethically raised or (sustainable) wild animal-based foods and broths.
- Consume foods (and overall meals) that are nutrient dense and calorically sparse.
- Get your nutrients from whole foods instead of supplements, unless you have been diagnosed with a deficiency and are working with a health professional to correct it.
- Choose a variety of foods that are naturally high in fiber.
- This will help you feel full, while also feeding beneficial bacteria living in your body. Even mother’s milk contains sugars that can’t be metabolized by their babies but feed their babies’ gut flora, instead.
If any of you have known me for a long time, you'll remember I used to always say that I thought the best diet would be somewhere in between hardcore vegan and hardcore paleo. Neither of which are very good diets on their own...too much dogma. I won't go on to slam either diet, but I'm not a fan of them, though I think both have redeeming qualities. A vegan diet, when executed successfully, contains lots of good fiber and is not too low in carbs. A paleo diet, does a good job avoiding modern processed foods, but is generally too low in carbs and fiber. And both end up being commercialized and twisted, ie. "Paleo snack bars." Or Vegan "cheese." Why do these diets need to mimic what they try to avoid?
I'm going to give Angelo's Plant Paleo a try for the whole month of April. I'm still involved in the Stanford Study and doing weekly stool tests, so this will be a good alternative diet plan to see in a microbiome report when completed later this year.
Basically, my normal eating pattern has been to "IF" until noon, then eat a very small lunch, usually a can of sardines, oysters, or a piece of wild-caught salmon. Some days a piece of fruit, too, or some light veggies. Then dinner is always a full-on meal featuring a slab of meat, a boat-load of veggies, starches, fruit, nuts, cheese, chocolate, etc...
For April, I will keep skipping breakfast, have a veggie-only lunch, and keep the meat portion of dinner very, very low and maybe even none on some days. I will try to focus on the better quality meats and organ meats when I do have meat. And we'll see how it goes. I need to read the plan a couple more times...
What is our actual requirement for "meat?" I know I have been kind of brainwashed by paleo, shooting for 100-150g of protein daily based on some calculation I heard once...usually meaning about a pound or more of meat, which is also what is called for in the Perfect Health Diet.
Mark Sisson said in 2013:
A significant-enough portion of the strength training community swears by 1-2 g protein/lb bodyweight that it couldn’t hurt to try if lower amounts aren’t working for you.I love nearly everything Mark Sisson writes, but maybe he's had me chasing too much protein over the last 5 years. At his upper end of 2g per pound of bodyweight, I should be eating 360g of protein...with roughly 125g of protein per pound of beef, that would mean eating nearly 3 pounds of meat daily! I'd say the last couple years I've eaten probably 1 - 1.5 lbs of meat daily. I'm going to be cutting it back to about that amount per week for a while and just see what happens with my energy levels, digestion, weight, and muscles. It's nearly warm enough here to start jogging and working in the garden, so this should be a good test of a lower meat-based diet.
Notice I did not say 'Low Protein' diet, I have a feeling that if I added up what protein I am getting from plants, it will be higher than you'd think...but I just hate measuring, weighing, and counting things...especially in food! So, not going there unless I get bored some day.
Battle Lines Drawn!
I think that Angelo unintentionally landed in the middle of a really crazy battlefield.
Have you been seeing the headlines? Dr. Dean Ornish, renown Vegan, wrote a NYTimes piece: The Myth of High-Protein Diets, in which he lambastes the world's new love of "bacon and eggs."
Animal protein increases IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, and chronic inflammation, an underlying factor in many chronic diseases. Also, red meat is high in Neu5Gc, a tumor-forming sugar that is linked to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of cancer.
But for reversing disease, a whole-foods, plant-based diet seems to be necessary.
Then, Dr. Michael Eades, author of Protein Power, stepped up and skewered all of the points made by Ornish, to high acclaim across the "Paleosphere" with Dr. Dean Ornish blasts high-protein diets:
As per usual for him, he is relying on observational or epidemiological studies to try to imply causation, and as every decent scientist knows, they do no such thing.
The message Ornish wants the reader to take away from this is that excess meat and fat consumption are driving the health problems we’re facing as a nation. Nothing could be further from the truth. But this is typical vintage Ornish: citing statistics and even giving the reference to find those statistics and assuming no one will bother to actually look them up.
Dr. Eades recommends a diet very high in protein and very low in fiber-rich, starchy or sugary plants. Basically, a "Low Carb High Fat" diet that has been very popular in Paleo circles.
At any rate, Angelo has landed smack-dab in the middle between these two polar-opposite approaches to healthy eating. In one of our conversations, we were discussing supplements. Angelo, quite rightly, quipped something like, "Yeah, but have studies been done on people eating high fiber, non-modern diets?" And, I have to agree there. A good diet should not require mega supplements.
Even Wheat Belly has now taken an "anti-all-grain" and a LCHF approach, and recommends quite a few supplements. I was actually quite taken aback by Dr. Davis' new approach to his wheat-free diet, turning it into another low carb diet. At least he is highlighting the need for fermentable fibers and gut health by adding in some RS, but his approach is that of a daily "low carb fiber smoothie."
OK, this is probably getting too long, don't need a multi-part series! Have a read of Angelo's new idea and let me know what you think...is it something you'd try? Any changes you'd recommend?