We have a confession to make.  We’re starting to just a little bit hate the word “Paleo”.

The number of Paleo-this and Paleo-that references on web sites, product lines and discussion boards is growing exponentially these days, driven in no small part by the wild success of Robb Wolf’s fantastic new book, The Paleo Solution.  And while we’re thrilled that more and more people are hearing the Good Food Word, we’re also more than a bit concerned about the gross overuse (and misuse) of what used to be a very specific label.  The term “Paleolithic Diet” as defined by Dr. Loren Cordain represents a very particular way of eating – no grains, no legumes, no dairy, nothing processed or artificial.  But in an attempt to cash in on the Paleo bandwagon, the term is now being bandied around by marketers, companies and sales campaigns with little to no regard for the original definition of the word.

Case #1:  PaleoBars.  The word “Paleo” is right on the label, leading you to believe this is an appropriate “snack bar” for your Paleo diet, right?  Flip it over, however, and the first four lines of ingredients (we spared you all nine) include:   Maltitol, Nonfat Milk Powder, Whole Milk Powder, Lecithin, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Rice Protein Concentrate, and Whey Crisps.  Not a single Paleo-approved food!

Case #2:  This 1996 Le Macchiole Bolgheri Superiore Paleo Rosso table wine.  Okay, this one isn’t actually jumping on the Paleo bandwagon, but it was funny so we included it.  (This does not mean this wine is Whole30 approved, by the way.)

It’s not just the products that keep popping up – it’s the Paleo-themed web sites and blogs, too.  Recipes that promise Paleo fare, but include butter, cream or cheese in their ingredient lists.  Blogs that serve up nothing but crappy food choices with shiny Paleo ingredients (like Paleo panackes, Paleo ice cream and Paleo pizza) – meeting your technical Paleo requirements but missing the bus on improving your health.  Or sites screaming Atkins-like mantras in an effort to promote the fun side of their Paleo offerings – “Eat all the bacon and almond  butter you like, it’s all PALEO!”  Good lord, does that even sound healthy?

The trouble here isn’t the occasional splash of heavy cream in a recipe, or the idea of “healthier” dessert options for your next holiday party.  It’s that those new to the Paleo concept might just be relying on that word alone to help them make good food choices. And if that is the case, some of these sites, products and marketing campaigns would certainly be steering them in the entirely wrong direction.  Our concern?  That the word “Paleo” is going to go the way of  other food words that sound like they mean something, but are, in many cases, meaningless.  Like “all-natural”, “certified humane”, or “organic“.  (Click the link, people.)

Of course, not all of the new Paleo products and web sites coming out these days are troublesome.  There are some great recipe and resources available on the web – things that will make your transition to a “Paleo” diet easier and more pleasurable.  (We’ve got several of them listed on our Resources page, in fact.)  But we’d like to caution you – buyer (or reader) beware.  Just because a product or web site says “Paleo” doesn’t mean it’s promoting good food choices. Your best bet is to educate yourself on Paleo diet concepts (Dr. Cordain’s site, Robb Wolf’s site and our site are great places to start) and then apply critical thinking when you stumble across a new product, recipe or resource.  In addition, we encourage you to practice “mindful eating”, paying attention to not just the technicality of the Paleo diet rules, but the spirit, intentions and goals that are at the root of your nutritional transformation.  (Our Whole30 Version 3.0 is a great place to start, by the way… so jump on board today!)

In the meantime, we’ll keep spreading our Good Food Word… but you probably won’t hear us say “Paleo” again for a good number of blog posts.  You’re welcome.

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  1. says

    I always enjoy the way you guys tell it like it is. I saw a “primal bar” in the store the other day that was a line of 100% vegan bars…what’s primal about that? And the ingredients….Don’t get me started.

  2. says

    hadnt seen the paleo bar. wow. good find. I originally hale from the dog world and feeding dogs raw meat and bones we usually refer to it as simple “species-appropriate.” I have been mentioning this on to many people. I think its pretty decent.

  3. says

    @Cameron: We like that post from Kurt. We’ve actually got our own take on the Paleo-ification of crappy food choices… stay tuned, we’ll try to get that up within the next 2 weeks or so.

  4. says

    Yeah this is a straight up bummer. I’ve only been eating paleo for a little over a month, so it’s actually really relevant to me, as I’m trying to migrate thru the do’s and don’ts, I’ve realized that reading the back label is a much better means of determining if something is paleo than reading the front label.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Shelly says

    It’s so hard to get the point across to people that TRULY (those with autoimmune diseases and true medical conditions) need to eat food that makes them MORE healthy, rather than LESS healthy, but then to have it totally undermined with these products, websites, blogs, recipes, etc. that pass their stuff off as true Paleo is more than frustrating to me. Then when they (the client, friend, neighbor) don’t get the experience you spent so much time talking about they say that it doesn’t work. So they might as well eat whatever they like. But, I need only concern myself with what I have control over and know that what I educate people on is true Paleo or else I’ll end up making myself CRAZY! BTW, I do agree that the occasional Paleo-fied (is that even the right term?) dessert or treat is acceptable, as long as it is in moderation and it doesn’t send you off of the deep end!

  6. Vitaly Sender says

    I completely agree with what you’re saying here guys. I’ve read some of Mark Sisson’s posts, and he’s clearly quite a knowledgeable guy, but that Primal Fuel is just plain rubbish! Not to mention I bought his “Primal Blueprint Cookbook” and even though it clearly says “Dairy Free” on the front cover, about half the recipes contain cheese?! I just think that kind of advertising is incredibly irresponsible, because uninformed people rely so heavily on those they trust to provide them with quality information and, not knowing any better, they could go and chow down on all these “Paleo” recipes in the book and wonder why they don’t feel any healthier!

    The worst culprit I’ve found though, is The Biggest Loser. I don’t know if they’ve got their own line of protein bars and meal-replacement shakes and all that over in America, but they do down here in Australia. The front of the packet touts the amazing weight-loss capabilities of the shakes, and then a quick look at the macronutrient profile shows that they’re about 40% or more sugar. It’s so disheartening to see, because people will watch the show and see all of these amazing life-changing transformations, then they see the same logo in the supermarket and think “well that MUST be good for me, look how much of a difference it made to the contestants on the show!” and they fill themselves up with this garbage. I don’t understand how companies are allowed to get away with such things!

  7. Becs says

    Out of curiosity, what do you have against “paleo pancakes”? I’ve seen them mentioned negatively a couple times here and it has left me scratching my head in confusion. I follow Amanda Miller’s recipe and from my opinion they are just banana omlettes, are we anti-banana? anti-cooked fruit?

  8. says


    I’ve found that I agree with you lately. People get way too dogmatic about Paleo for the sake of Paleo. But it doesn’t surprise me, because “Paleo” as a concept is a neat little package that’s pretty easily explained and takes your brain out of it. IMO, people are unhealthy in this country because they don’t really think about WHY they’re eating what they’re eating. if they did, they would arrive at the same concepts as you guys have, for the most part. It’s easy to explain to my mom that “cavemen didn’t eat processed carbs and we haven’t physically evolved much from them” but at some point you have to start tweaking and really answering questions about how food affects you.

  9. Tasha says

    I must say, since finding your site and blog I have been more educated with the “how” and “why” of eating clean. Thank you for this post. I agree completely!

  10. says

    Bang on the money guys. I am an ex-conventional wisdom nutritionist who has seen the error (read as ignorance) of my ways and who now works with individuals in a ‘paleo’ framework. I have people coming to me with all kinds of paleo-this and primal-that… And it says to me a couple of things. Firstly, if they are needing to pad their diets out with pseudo-paleo junk, then they simply aren’t eating enough of the basics. With myself and others, I have observed that if you eat enough real paleo food, the rest looks after itself and the requirement for paleo bars and primal fuels just isn’t there. Secondly (and this is where I am with Dr Harris), it highlights the extent of their addiction, whether it be to carbs in general or to sub-fractions of them such as wheat. Smokers are addicted to more than just the smoking. They might cease smoking, but still go and take in the situation in which it occurred whilst swigging their sodapop, chewing their gum, and absorbing their patch. They haven’t fully broken the addiction. If you are in the kitchen making primal pancakes or the real deal, you are still hooked. Hookers and cocaine are still hookers and cocaine, even if you only sit on the bed and hold hands having only had a Charlie mouth rinse!

    Just a quick comment re: Mark Sisson. He has, and continues to do a fabulous job. Given everything he has done, I do not begrudge him one second to try to get some payback for his efforts with his Primal Fuel. And I’m of the opinion that nobody else should begrudge him that either. However, I think he made a serious error in judgement branding his primal fuel as anything remotely resembling something that is Paleo. It clearly isn’t and shouldn’t be justified as such by him, nor should it be consumed by people thinking they sticking to the ideals of the paleo ‘brand’ (for want of a better term).

  11. Jason says

    Mark Sisson actually has a blog post about how his program differs from a true Paleo “diet”; precisely because he approves of Dairy if you’re tolerant. I know that wasn’t the intent of this post, but he’s stated that Primal Fuel is in response to demand from his customers/readers. That being said: I do not like how it’s marketed as a meal replacement (Post Workout would be more appropriate): fast if you’re without food.

  12. toni says

    not to belittle Marks Daily Apple but since discovering Whole9 and the Whole30 I haven’t looked back at his website since. I used to be a regular on the forum over there but it is filled with what you call “paleo-fied” foods and it just made me confused and crazy. Your straight forward approach makes this doable and I’m also working on the emotional side of food and my relationship with food as well. Food is fuel!

  13. says

    The Whole30 pointed me out into a big, wide world of food that offers endless possibilities. Buying into “the spirit, intentions and goals” of the approach, as Melissa and Dallas recommends, makes me eager to try new vegetables and cuts of meat, new spices and cooking techniques to get the most from real food. And I am cooking and eating for me. I live now, not in the paleolithic age. I am consuming what is on offer in the produce and meat departments of stores in my neighborhood today in 2010. The Whole30 program is “Eat. Real. Food.” I agree – paleo-schmaleo. The world and the blogosphere would be a better place if we just talked about “eating real food.”

  14. Lydia says

    Count me among the former Daily Apple readers. I was sad to see Sisson create and push this product,. I thought it destroyed his credibility. It’s too bad, because The Primal Blueprint is what started me on this path, and I still think there are some great ideas in that book.

    I like using the term Paleo Diet, because it’s easy to Google. When people ask me for resources on how I eat I say “Go to and then Google ‘paleo diet’ for recipes that fit their guidelines.”

    “Just because a product or web site says “Paleo” doesn’t mean it’s promoting good food choices.”

    It amazes me that people who eat our way still fall prey to that sort of marketing. Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but I gotta think….WTF? Really? Reading food labels does not mean just reading the marketing ploy, people. Come on.

  15. says

    I’m definitely guilty of making muffins with almond meal and labeling them as “paleo” while at the same time realizing that that’s not the point…There’s no such thing as paleo cookies or paleo muffins…they’re just grain free.My blog is a healthy living blog: I don’t advertise it as a “paleo blog”…although I’m working on transitioning from blogging about baked goods, to blogging about good meats and vegetables…I don’t want to label myself too much.

    I think this post is great– I hope that more people who were introduced to the paleo diet through Robb’s book discover you guys…you keep it real…and you keep it from becoming a product/advertising driven cult (in my opinion). I hope you don’t hate me because I blogged about “paleo pumpkin muffins” once…It won’t happen again…I promise

  16. says

    My blog has a paleo nutrition and lifestyle page (I reference and link to whole9 frequently) I’m not selling anything on it. I think that people like Mark Sisson( I agree with you Brandon, I don’t follow his page since the protein powder incident) are riding the paleo wave of opportunity and will be on to something else eventually. I think that people who are sharing quality information or selling quality services related to the paleo lifestyle are generally doing something that they are passionate about. I applaude them.

  17. Mike says

    Good post! I consider myself ‘inspired by evolutionary diets’ or something like that. I eat potatoes, some rice, and some dairy, so I am less strict anyways and not technically paleo.

    Furthermore, once a habit is engrained into one’s lifestyle, using the term ‘paleo’ becomes less and less necessary. It is just ‘what I do / this is what I prefer to eat.’

    Regarding specific ‘paleo’ websites, I am getting irritated with “Health Bent.” Seriously, the last three recipes on their site are desserts (I count pancakes as desserts). Goddamn deserts. Nothing but candy cigarettes. I eat potatoes, rice, and dairy and I still don’t need or want deserts like that.

  18. Jessica says

    Lydia wrote:
    “It amazes me that people who eat our way still fall prey to that sort of marketing. Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but I gotta think….WTF?”

    Yikes, this describes ME! Shortly before reading this post, I purchased the Primal Fuel without questioning the ingredients. I don’t usually need to read labels because I’ve completely given up eating processed food. However, I’m going on the road to do a series of tradeshows next month, which means I’m going to be stuck in convention centers for 10-12 hours a day, far from any decent food. Some of you might make do with burgers without buns or something similar. However, as a former vegetarian with a soft spot for animals, I just can’t bring myself to support that factory farmed cruelty. (even if my own well-being suffers as a result. Please don’t judge…)
    I’d planned to use the Primal Fuel as an emergency measure when the food cooler runs low. Now I’m wondering if it’s going to make me feel crappy. I REALLY don’t do well with sugar. This sucks, and I feel a little stupid for shelling out $79 + shipping : )

  19. says


    I’m on the road frequently, and feel your pain. Here are some things that I do –

    1. Find some good buffalo jerky that you can snack on. You may find it in your local health food store or you can find good sources online.

    2. Make your own trail mix. Here is what i put in mine –
    Raw Almonds
    Raw Pumpkin Seeds
    Raw Walnuts
    Small Amount of Goji Berries
    Cacao Nibs
    Coconut Flakes (shaved dried coconut)

    3. Find a Fresh Market and makes a salad to bring with you or get some of the salad fixings ( broccoli, carrots, etc and put them in a ziplock bag.

    Good luck in your travels and I hope that this helps!

  20. says


    I’m on the road frequently, and feel your pain. Here are some things that I do –

    1. Find some good buffalo jerky that you can snack on. You may find it in your local health food store or you can find good sources online.

    2. Make your own trail mix. Here is what i put in mine –
    Raw Almonds
    Raw Pumpkin Seeds
    Raw Walnuts
    Small Amount of Goji Berries
    Cacao Nibs
    Coconut Flakes (shaved dried coconut)

    3. Find a Fresh Market or Whole Foods and make a salad to bring with you or get some of the salad fixings ( broccoli, carrots, etc and put them in a ziplock bag.

    Good luck in your travels and I hope that this helps!

  21. says

    Hm, at first I was like, overreact much? But then I read the whole post and realized no, you are just asking people to THINK. Yes, I’m on board with that.

    There is way too much of the “Am I being technically Paleo?” mindset out there, without nearly enough “Am I in the spirit of the thing?” It’s not enough to know WHAT to do, or you’ll end up eating Paleo pancakes and cookies all day long, or making countless exceptions for dairy, or going in the other direction and freaking out about carrots (still my favorite post). We need to know the WHY so that we can make the right choices.

    Not everyone who’s “Paleo” makes the same choices or ends up at the same place. But as long as we’re thinking and questioning and looking at the data and the mechanisms and trying to understand why, we’re on the right track.

    Thanks for the call to arms!

  22. CFS says

    I fully agree with this post. Protein shakes, bars and dairy will never be paleo, and those who think so have failed to grasp the point. Paleo is not just another low-carb diet, without grains. It’s about eating like our ancestors ate, because we haven’t evolved to eat Neolithic food, whether it be carbohydrate, protein or fat. Refined carbohydrate might be just as bad as dairy protein or processed fats. I’ve come to hate low-carb because of this misunderstanding, and all the authors who have taken advantage of the fact that Palaeolithic people ate a lot of meat to justify their low-carb advice.

  23. Kevin Green says

    I love the real message behind all of this that you continually bring forward. As Melissa would say, Make.Good.Food.Choices. It is all about empowering people to understand how to make the best choices they can. I frequently explain to people that grains are nutritionally inferior to vegetables and fruits. It is so much easier than trying to explain paleo vs neo foods and microperforations developing in the intestinal wall due to grains. Point blank, broccoli has more good stuff than wheat bread does.

    I also tell people to put the “pseudo-science” to the test and do a Whole30 cycle and try reintroducing the foods. It is a real eye opener. You guys sell strict paleo but I think the packaging you sell it in is what makes it so easy to understand.

    Kurt, the Paleo Nu doc, has a very good post about the overuse of the word paleo. He explains how just because something is paleo doesn’t make it healthy. Paleo is a great place to start from but isn’t the end all be all of nutrition. Basically he balks at the idea of paleo reenactment and doesn’t care what Grok ate but only how it made him healthier than Korg.

    Warning, he mentions how he likes butter and heavy cream.


  24. elitist jerk says

    So… since we are all being elitists and not using the word paleo because a few companies decided to try to “cash in” on the potential, I have a question: Are frozen meals paleo, as in paleo frozen meals? I mean if we are going to get all kinds of upset with Mark Sisson, there’s no sense in discriminating, right? Let’s go after everyone trying to make money. The moral of the story is that there is enough information for consumers to make an educated decision on what to and what not to eat. The onus is on them, not our capitalistic society.

  25. says

    Whoa… Let’s not “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. I understand where your disgust is coming from, but I think that given the rise of “The Paleo Diet”; one should expect that some less than scrupulous marketers and companies would try to capitalize on it. Isn’t that the good ol’ American way? Think of the brands “Healthy Choice”, or “Vitamin Water”, or the tag lines “low-calorie”, “heart-healthy”, “farm fresh”, or “organic”, as you pointed out. So it should be no surprise then that products like PaleoBars are popping up. Stupid, annoying, sad, but not surprising… and, IMO not worth one modifying their own posture on “Paleo” as a result. The real take-away, as you noted, is that we STILL can’t trust product marketing, we STILL need to read the labels and check the ingredients or better yet avoid labels and packaging altogether… So now we can’t rely on the “Paleo” tagline to make good food choices. Bummer, but it was only a matter of time… and with regards to not using the term “Paleo”, I think that those of us who have been spreading the good true meaning of “Paleo” AND good/real food need to step up and represent, maybe even call some of these idiots out, instead of kowtowing to them and allowing them to hijack our brand. I say fly your Paleo flags high and proud!

  26. chris says

    the thing to take with all of this info (for that is), is that I eat pretty close to Paleo guide lines, but not 100%. when someone asks if I am Paleo, i have to answer with a YES BUT, and i do. I also have to indicate that I have 3 cheat meals a week where I eat whatever I want. Those cheat meals get a little healthier over time, but thats besides the point. When someone says they are Paleo and then they tell me about how they drink a gallon of milk a day, and i point out that dairy isnt paleo, they immediately start to tell me that it is, and then start referencing Blogs that tell them so. I dont care if they are eating dairy, but i dont like when they try to justify it by saying that dairy is paleo. Anyway, it only matter to me how i eat.
    All is all, i know that Paleo is not the only answer to healthy eating, I just know that sticking very close to those guide line I have gone from 270 to just under 220 since the beginning of the year, and all of my WOD measurements have gotten much better, . . . . oh and another coincidence, that occurred is that all my allergies seem to be non-existent (i didnt think about that until i read that eliminating dairy has been shown to reduce allergy symptoms – thepaleodiet newletter). All is well

  27. Jae says

    Great post, as always. For a while, now, I’ve been moving away from talking about “Paleo” and toward simply saying “I just eat real food and generally avoid processed crap.”

    Non-CrossFitters and newbies find this easier to understand than “Paleo.” Even vegetarians and vegans think this sounds good.

    The catch is trying to get people to understand that bread, pasta, tofu, and quorn are processed foods.

  28. says

    I got excited when I saw the wine…too good to be true. I know you guys prefer whole food over post WOD supplements but in terms of good, better, best what about Pro Strength collagen protein supplement (no whey)?

  29. says

    @ Everyone,

    We love to see good, productive discussion like these. And yes, Meghan, we want you to think for yourself ;)

    @ Elitist Jerk,

    We’re fine with your dissenting viewpoint, but next time, have the integrity to post under your real name. Please.

    @ Kristie,

    No dice. That stuff is artificially sweetened (2 different ones!), and is literally pre-digested (“hydrolyzed”) bones, cartilage, and cow hides. If you want to eat that stuff, we give you props, but a ultra-processed, artificially-sweetened collagen drink does not get our seal of approval. Nice try, though ;) How are things in CT? Will you and Andy be able to make it to our NJ workshop next Saturday?

  30. says

    Eww. I can’t believe I’m drinking pre-digested cowhide, this is the worst news I’ve heard all day.
    Things here are great we have 2 competitions in the next 3 weeks so Andy and I won’t make it out to Ignite but a few of our members will be there! I can’t thank you guys enough. Since we started your program our On Ramp groups have exploded with new members who are eager to see the results their friends have been getting with the program.

  31. Luther says

    I’ve never really understand what people’s problem with butter is. It’s low carb, high fat, and while technically it is a dairy product, it lacks casein and lactose which are the primary detriments (from a paleo perspective). Grass-fed butter also has lots of beneficial components like carotene, vitamin a and K2. So what gives?

  32. says

    @Luther: We just had a chat with Robb Wolf about this very subject. We’ll be doing our “butter” write-up soon – next week, or the following Monday at the latest. Stay tuned.

  33. says

    We discussed this post over dinner last night.Specifically the part about making foods like muffins or pancakes with paleo ingredients. I can understand that in Whole9’s position it must be frustrating to see when people that they are trying to help don’t get it. I must say that I like that there are so many recipes out there like that. Why? Well, we don’t make things like that every day. We eat like you guys but when we want something bad it’s nice to know those recipes are out there. For example we are having an almond flour crust pizza tonight. We find that it’s better to eat something like that than to hit the local pizzeria and ingest wheat and who knows what else. We have also made primal pancakes twice. Do we eat them every day, no. Neither should you but I have to stand by these recipes as a good option for bad days. It simply makes them not so bad.

  34. Vitaly Sender says

    @Mike Norris: I think a key aspect of your attitude towards those kinds of recipes, compared to many other people’s, is that you acknowledge these are still bad foods. You get that they’re not “every day” meals and you still treat them as cheats, even though their ingredients are, as you say, “not so bad.” I think the thought process behind the eating is very important, and you’re obviously not lying to yourself here and saying something like “Oh the ingredients are all technically Paleo, so it must be good for me.” If you WERE eating them every day (as unfortunately I’m sure many people do) and justifying it with “But it’s Paleo” then that’d be a problem.

  35. says

    @Vitality Sender: I agree with you completely. I simply hope that people don’t dismiss that genre of recipe as a food choice equal to say donuts, pasta, etc. I hope that people will pick homemade coconut milk ice cream over Ben and Jerry’s if they are going to treat themselves. As Robb Wolf has pointed out so many times, lectins will affect you for 12 days. So choosing that almond crust pizza over a grain based crust is important.

  36. says

    @elitistjerk you said: “The moral of the story is that there is enough information for consumers to make an educated decision on what to and what not to eat. The onus is on them, not our capitalistic society.”

    information being available doesn’t mean people know what to do with it. large portions of the population are not capable of making educated decisions about nutrition simply because they’ve never been given the tools to use the information at their disposal. assuming that every consumer out there is starting from an equal position in terms of education and knowledge is naive and simplistic. the reality is that there are a LOT of inequalities in our society, and low-income people are far less likely to have even basic skills like how to read and understand nutrition labels (and yes, i know that this group of people are also unlikely to be affected by erroneously labeled “paleo” items). the larger argument here is valid: that people selling food should be labeling it accurately, honestly, and with integrity, even if it’s something that’s not expressly regulated (“paleo” is obviously unlike “organic” in this regard).

    we should not have to settle for companies using a buzz word (paleo!) or wilding mis-naming a product (vitamin water!) just to sell more product when it comes to food. food is fuel, food is IMPORTANT in a way that most of the crap we buy isn’t. obviously there’s no regulation around when you can use the word ‘paleo’, but why should there have to be? why can’t companies live with the same integrity we expect out of people? i don’t cheat on my WODs, or in my job, i don’t lie about things that could impact other peoples’ physical well-being. if a diabetic came over to my house for dinner and asked if i put sugar in any of the dishes i prepared, i wouldn’t lie to them about that, or say “no” because i used honey not sugar. and if i WERE to do this, i would be denigrated, looked down upon, possibly jailed, certainly be called a jerk. but when companies lie, we just say, ‘they’re just trying to make money, it’s what people always do, WE have to be more careful not to let them fool us.’

    yes, i will be careful, i will read my labels and i will never automatically believe something is paleo until i’ve verified that claim to the best of my ability. but i’m not ready to give up on expecting integrity from people selling me the things i need to fuel my body.

  37. says

    @Mike/Vitaly: You two have it down. We are all saying the same thing here – these Paleo-ified recipes (creative and delicious as they may be!) should be considered a less bad special treat, and not a regular “healthy” substitution in your day-to-day meal planning. Thanks for contributing- I like it when folks flesh out some of our discussion topics in more detail, especially when the points you’ve made are (in our opinion) so on target.


  38. Kevin Green says

    This post brought me back to the Fudge Babies, Baby post a few months ago. You guys said the exact same thing, just because they are made with fruit and nuts does not make them good for you everyday. You even called them candy. As Mike and Vitaly both mentioned above, a lot of the Whole9 concept is about making smart food choices and knowing what is going down your gullet. That idea is so much easier to “digest” (excuse the pun) than a lot of the sciencey stuff associated with Paleo.

    Preach on.


  39. Lauren G. says

    Although I feel I’m adding some reiterative sledgehammer strikes to an already long dead horse, it’s too tempting not to weigh in on the discussion. I think a lot of us are in agreement over many of the underlying issues that our two favorite lifestyle gurus have brought up.

    Paleo Substitutes – The PaNu post appears to argue that ‘paleo’ pizza/muffins/pancakes are gateway paleo foods to a slippery slope of unhealthy choices, and I agree if you’re someone who’s trying to transition from an unhealthy way of eating to a healthy way of eating. Before you get to the point where you’re making those kinds of recipes you should have at least gone through the detoxification stage of your nutritional transition, gotten a Whole30 under your belt, and began eating a ‘Whole9’ type diet consistently. However, if you’ve fully integrated your healthy lifestyle, I don’t see a problem with enjoying a paleo pancake or muffin or pizza every once in a while, in fact that’s what I would consider a ‘Neolithic comfort food’ substitute. As Mike and Vitaly discussed, I’d much rather splurge occasionally on my version of ‘healthy’ pancakes (which I happen to think are flippin’ delicious) than the ‘real thing’. Key word being occasionally! Just like Halloween candy isn’t special, neither is a pancake breakfast every Sunday, regardless of its ‘paleo-ness’!

    To Paleo or Not to Paleo – I’ve also become increasingly frustrated with the ‘P word’. I tend to use it or not use in certain context depending on my audience. If I’m sending out a recipe to friends and family who know me and how I eat, I’ll call it ‘Paleo’ whatever for simplicity’s sake. Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just easier to say ‘paleo’ instead of ‘healthy food choice based on evolutionary nutrition concepts that does not include dairy, legumes, or vegetables with anti-nutrients’. However, I don’t like associating the word ‘paleo’ in my discussions with people who are unfamiliar with the concept because it inevitably devolves into a ‘But cave dwellers didn’t have sunbutter or coconut aminos or blah blah blah’. It’s not about what cave peeps did or didn’t have, it’s about the scientific concept behind it, and if I’m trying to give a 2 minute elevator pitch I’m not going to spend 1.5 minutes of it discussing evolutionary biology concepts (as fascinating as I may find the subject).

    Paleo defined – When I discuss my diet with people, I usually say very simply “I eat healthy foods, not food products”, expand from there on what I consider to be ‘healthy’ and why, and then tell them to go to Whole9 because it will change their life. I don’t even like saying I eat ‘Paleo’ to other Crossfitters or Paleo eaters anymore because I dislike the ‘I do but I don’t’ discussion that will ensue. I actually alternate eating Whole30 (what some may call ‘strict’) for about 2 weeks with one week of ‘relaxed’ Whole9 eating which typically includes me enjoying things that are on my F-off list (speaking of which we’ve had Whole30 3.0 so where is Healthy/F-off Scale 2.0 Mox boss!? :P). Yes, sometimes that includes evil gluten-filled beer, dark chocolate, or a splash of heavy cream in my coffee. Report me to the Paleo Police! But just as ‘Neolithic Comfort Foods’ are something I enjoy every once in a while in moderation because I feel like it, it’s the same thing with stuff on my F-off list, and guess what? That list is pretty darn short! The point is I do this because it works for ME, and it’s what I like. At the end of the day, your performance, your health, and how you feel are what really matter.

  40. says

    For some reason my thick skin has been slightly itchy about this post. I know whey protein isolate is not paleo. So does Mark Sisson, thats why he says “primal.” So why are y’all upset about it now? Obviously, the healthy choice dinner might suck but why get pissed off about people that are actually helping. I know you advocate on whole 30 no alcohol, but even Robb Wolf is realistic in that the greater majority is going to have a drink every once in a while. I had a blast keeping up with the road trip yall did this summer and when you(melissa) had a little spark earlier and decided you wanted to be a little more personal….Great! But don’t go get all high and paleo mighty. Just say…*although those nuts are natural, snicker bars are exactly paleor” Please keep your good influence by not making a religion of paleo eating.


  41. says


    I think your statement about us getting “all high and paleo mighty” might be a little unfair. What we were actually trying to convey was our frustration with folks who’ve co-opted (and distorted) the “Paleo” label for personal/financial gain, not because it is or is not “Paleo”. (After all, we’re not the Paleo Police!) We’re the first to say that we don’t care what Grok may or may not have eaten, but to use the word “Paleo” to describe a product (like Sisson did with his Primal Fuel, “The Perfect Primal, Paleo and Low-Carb Meal” – that contains processed whey protein, table sugar, maltodextrin, and casein is simply a lie to make a buck. We don’t like people who deliberately mix truth with half-truth (and straight-up lies) to pad their pocketbooks. Whether Robb thinks most folks will drink despite his recommendations or not is beside the point, because compliance with recommendations should not be confused with the recommendations themselves. We aim to present (what we think is) “best-case scenario”, and let each individual decide how close to “ideal” they will stay long-term, rather than water down recommendations or deliberately mislead folks to make more dough. Thanks for your comment, even though you’re “itchy” about our post. We welcome healthy dialogue.

  42. Davina says

    First clue that it is not “Paleo:” It has a wrapper on it that says it is “Paleo.” All natural foods don’t come with wrappers last I checked…

  43. says

    My husband is on a meat preservation kick, making sausage, jerky, etc. He is using sodium nitrite for this…what’s your thoughts on it? Paleo? Not thinking it is but hoping…

  44. Scott Hinson says

    I would like to point out that the wine mentioned in this article is good enough to be on the f-off part of the healthy/f-off scale. It’s pretty legendary among the Italian wine geeks. (Like me!)

  45. Mark says

    Honestly, I knew very little the origin paleo, but I took the challenge seriously and researched and I think am better of…definitely, I believe the term paleo is being used for marketing purposes only…my thoughts

  46. Mark says

    Honestly, I knew very little about the origin of paleo, but I took the challenge seriously and researched and I think am now better of…definitely, I believe the term paleo is being used for marketing purposes only…my thoughts