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Stuff White People Like needs a new entry on its illustrious blog: Going Primal. Yes, the wave of the future is going back… all the way to the Paleolithic. Trendy white status whores have jumped on the Primal bandwagon, as evidence mounts that our pre-agricultural hunter-gatherer lifestyle was healthier for us. In a complete reversal of SWPL values, vegetarianism is out and meat-eating is in. Chuck Taylors are out and barefoot running is in. Sex with condoms is out and raw dogging is in. (Ok, I made up that last one. Someday the world will catch up to me.)
For the past four months I’ve been on the primal diet — low on grain carbs, high on meat, fat, and evolutionary harmony. I will now tell you my results on this diet.
First, the main changes I made:
I stopped eating bread, french fries, baked potatoes, pasta, donuts, pastries, cereal (mostly), cakes, and pretty much anything else wheat- or potato-based. Rice consumption was limited.
I radically cut back on my sugar consumption. This was more difficult than it sounds, because the Standard American Diet is full of sugar, usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup. If you don’t believe me, try walking down the cereal aisle at Safeway and finding a box of cereal that doesn’t have sugar or HFCS as one of the first three ingredients. Sugar, if you’ve been living in a closet the past five years, is incredibly bad for you in anything more than the quantities you would find in a single fruit. It spikes your insulin and causes your body to store calories as fat. It ages you. It enervates you. There’s no upside to sugar.
I started eating bigger lunches and smaller dinners. In fact, I skipped dinner entirely a couple days each week.
I intermittently fasted, sort of. A day every other week I would barely eat anything.
I started eating more nuts and more fish in the low mercury, fisheries friendly form of sardines and wild salmon. I actually like sardines so this was not a challenge for me. A big problem with the modern diet is that our omega 6-omega 3 ratio is completely out of whack. Fish, flax, and nuts are high in omega 3s and eating them restores the balance.
I drank a glass of red wine and ate a small square of 90% dark chocolate every day.
I substituted the bread I used to eat with more veggies. Broc, brussel sprouts, red pepper, eggplant, squash, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, leek, cucumber, asparagus.
Berries were in, big time. Frozen blueberries are best. They eat like candy.
Since I was still unsure of the health merits of the primal diet’s high fat recommendations, I didn’t go crazy with the bacon, beef, or butter. I didn’t want my LDL cholesterol to go through the roof. I did add more Irish Gold butter and saturated fat to my diet, but I generally tried to eat fish and nuts for the bulk of my fat calories. Vegetable oil was out (way out) and extra virgin olive oil was in (way in).
Dairy was tricky. The primal guidelines are circumspect on the health of dairy, but since I am of the heritage that evolved centrally located to the spread of the lactase persistence gene, I figured milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese (glorious smelly cheese!) would do me no harm. I continued indulging.
Beer: Though beer is grain-based I couldn’t give it up. Sacrifice beer for immortality? Tough call.
A sample breakfast:
Two hard boiled eggs and watered down grape juice. A lump of cheese.
A sample lunch:
Salmon fillet, veggie, brown rice.
A sample dinner:
Sardines, cucumber drizzled with olive oil and garlic, cheese on sliced tomato, glass of red wine, handful of walnuts, dark chocolate.
I also supplemented with a variety of OTC (and some not-so-OTC) life extending drugs that I call my arsenal of immortality. Here is a picture of that arsenal:
Some other changes I made while following the primal diet/lifestyle:
Wind sprints in place of long distance running (with my Vibram Fivefingers, the lady catchers!).
20 minutes of afternoon sun. On cloudy days I popped a few vitamin D + K2 pills.
Circuit training. There are a bunch of exercise stations in the park down from where I live where I go to do chin-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups. I can crank out twice as many pull-ups when a cute girl walks by.
My results on the primal diet:
I’m more constipated. My poops are harder and darker, like Chic Noir’s lovers (you go girl!). Luckily, the stool is small and pellet-shaped, so evacuating is not a painful process. On the toilet I feel like a rabbit with a rectal machine gun. Rat-a-tat-tat!
I fart and burp less. I consider this an unwelcome development.
My skin is smoother and more flushed. There is more oil in my facial skin, but fewer blemishes.
My libido is up. Morning wood is a regular occurrence, as are sex dreams involving two or more women. My juice is thick and milky. My erections pierce the heavens.
When I cut myself on the hand, I noticed the wound healed faster than my cuts used to before going primal.
My hair is darker, and in the biggest surprise my few gray hairs appear to have reversed color. My hair also grows faster, and my pubes are a dense canopy of velcro. Rock on, hippie.
My hand temperature fluctuates wildly. Weird, but maybe it’s related to the changing season?
I sleep better (more REM dreaming) but I can’t say I have more energy. Energy level change: Inconclusive.
My mood is, I think, worse. I dunno, but whole wheat bread and pasta seems to pick me up.
No change to my game.
In a couple of months I will have blood work done. I’ll let you know if the primal diet has significantly altered my lipid profile.
The final verdict: Jury is out. Theoretically, the primal diet, based as it is on mimicking how humans used to eat for millions of years before grain agriculture rotted their teeth out, has a lot going for it. The thinking goes that our digestive system has not evolved as much or as quickly as, for example, our skin color or brains have, so the best living is the lifestyle that closely matches what we ate for most of our evolutionary history. But there are arguments against a one-size-fits-all primal diet, as succinctly relayed to me by Randall Parker:
Okay, we’ve evolved a number of adaptations to dietary changes. For example, upregulation of lactase into adulthood. Very important for the spread of humans in some (though not all) parts of the world. Similarly, Mediterranean peoples are much better adapted to alcohol than northern Europeans. Northern Europeans are better adapted to alcohol than East Asians with their facial flush reaction to alcohol.
Grains: Obviously populations that adopted grain farming experienced local selective pressures that other populations didn’t experience. Hunter-gatherer types are going to have different allele frequencies for digestion and metabolism than, say, populations that were already doing grain farming a few thousand years ago.
I am confident that some people have genes that make the paleo diet more beneficial to them. Ditto for other diets for other people. We aren’t all at equal genetic risk of adult onset diabetes or obesity. This is due to local selective pressures. e.g. eskimo genes must be different due to their high meat and high fat diets. Ditto genes in people living in areas with lots of fruits.
Some people really do benefit from eating like an ape man. I think absent genetic tests we’ve got to each try diets and see what works for us. Parenthetically, Steve [Sailer] sees it the same way:
What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie? asks an important article in the NYT Magazine. For decades, the medical profession has been trying to stomp out heretics like Dr. Atkins who question the orthodoxy that the only way to control your weight is to eat a lot of carbohydrates and very little fat. I tried the low-fat plan and gained 40 pounds because I was hungry all the time. I shifted to a less extreme version of Atkins’s diet (to be honest, it was Suzanne Somers’ anti-starch and anti-sugar version, which emphasizes vegetables as well as meat) and lost it all in an easy year. (Over the last three years, I’ve gained half of it back because it’s hard to stay on it when you are away from home, although the market is starting too supply more prepared foods appropriate for this diet.)
Here’s my theory on why doctors got obsessed with high-carb diets. Around 1970, they started seeing a lot of East Asians in the medical profession. They were mostly all skinny. How did they do it? They ate rice! If starch is good for East Asians, it must be good for everybody else, right? If you don’t believe that, then you must be some kind of racist who thinks there are biological differences between people from different parts of the world, you scum.
So, it was high-carb East Asian diets for everybody! But what if your ancestors hadn’t been evolving for the last few hundred generations on a high starch diet? What if you still had caveman genes for processing foods? Hunter-gatherers eat meat and vegetables. Perhaps, the East Asian ability to thrive on rice was a recent evolutionary adaptation.
We know that different metabolic responses to diet can evolve quickly. For example, milking domestic animals was only invented about 10,000 years ago, but the gene mutation giving lactose tolerance spread to up to 97% of Danes, while remaining virtually zero among East Asians, whose population was too dense to afford dairy cows. We know that hunter-gatherers like Eskimos have a terrible time when they switch from an all meat to a starch and sugar rich diet – they get horrible tooth decay and diabetes (not to mention alcoholism).
Europeans over the last 10,000 years have varied greatly in diet. About one fifth of European genes come from Middle Eastern grain farmers, while four fifths come from indigenous hunter-gatherers, many of whom made the transition over the last few thousand years to cow and pig farmers. Thus, whites in America tend to be highly diverse in terms of what diets are best for them. All you can do is try different diets to find what your body needs.
At this point I’m keeping an open mind and an eye on the latest research. Nevertheless, I predict that “going primal” will be the newest SWPL fad of the next ten years. At parties, pretentious SWPLs will ask “Is your beef grass fed?” instead of “Is your veggie burger low salt?” Anyone caught eating a burger in a bun will be quickly and mercilessly ostracized.
A photo of the truck that smuggles in SWPL border jumpers: