Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Paleo Diet Q & A - 11.4.09

Dear Readers,

We are often sent questions from our readers about the Paleo Diet. We will publish these questions and our follow-up answers periodically to share with the Paleo Diet community. If you have specific questions regarding the Paleo Diet please send us a comment!

The Paleo Diet Team

Q: Are eggs (mainly just egg whites) considered to be an OK food for this diet?

A: Yes, egg whites are OK on The Paleo Diet. The only exception is autoimmune diseases. In that case you should avoid egg whites as some proteins in it (Lysozyme) may increase intestinal permeability which is at the root of many autoimmune diseases. Otherwise, you can eat egg whites.

Q: I started the program and I was wondering if Whey Protein or protein powder in general is against the diet.

A: Egg protein powder is a better option in order to avoid certain harmful whey proteins, specially if you suffer from an autoimmune disease. Whey protein also produces hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) which on the long run may produce insulin resistance and hence hormonal disruption.

Q: In the article in today's email "The Paleo Diet Promotes Greater Vitality in Later Years" by Pedro Bastos he writes about the Okinawan Diet. He writes that they don't eat potatoes but I understand that they eat lots of Sweet Potatoes.

Yes, probably they ate big amounts of sweet potatoes as some hunter-gatherers do in Kitava-Papua New Guinea. Our ancestors didn't have an universal diet because it depended on climate, season, latitude, culture, etc. This means that the amount of carbohydrates they ate varied substantially. So, for instance in Kitava they eat a lot of carbohydrates and still have no obesity, so it seems as if some bioactive substances of neolithic foods are responsible for hormonal disruption rather than merely carbohydrate content.

However, there's a big difference between potatoes and sweet potatoes. Potatoes are a good source of some known harmful substances namely saponins. They have the ability to increase intestinal permeability and hence increase the risk of autoimmune diseases (in genetically predisposed individuals), and induce low-grade chronic inflammation which is at the root of many chronic degenerative diseases. On the other hand, there's some preliminary data suggesting that some bioactive substances, such as lectins and saponins, contained in potatoes, grains, legumes, etc. can bind hormonal receptors impairing their function. This could be the case of leptin receptor leading to leptin resistance and some metabolic disorders.

Potatoes are a very new food for humans, as they came from North America less than 600 years ago. On the other hand, it seems that sweet potatoes are part of the human diet since a long time ago.

Q: Can you please give me some ideas for breakfast, as I am anxious to get started with The Paleo Diet?

A: First of all you have to take out of your mind the idea that a healthy breakfast is composed of milk, cereal grains and cookies. Not even Paleo-friendly foods such as fruits are the only options you have for breakfast, although they are one of them. Breakfast is just another meal of the day and as such you can eat lean protein such as turkey or chicken breasts, steamed vegetables, avocado, nuts, eggs (if you are not following the autoimmune plan), salmon and fresh fruit. Another good option is leftovers from the previous day's meals. I usually cook a large amount for dinner in order to have the next day's breakfast ready!

You can find more ideas in our website:


  1. Yikes, your second question threw me for a loop. Whey protein is the darling of many. Could you please, if you have a chance, explain more fully the relationship of whey protein and hyperinsulinemia?

    I fear there are many folks shooting themselves in the foot everyday and not knowing it. (Okay me). I have never heard of that connection and would be very interested in further information.

    The blog is a great idea. I am looking forward to it!

  2. I'm on board with the paleo/promal style diet- have bben for months- the key being eating 'clean' foods. Grass fed beef is the only beef I eat. The reason Buffalo and other 'game' meats are lower in fat is because they aren't fed grain or corn like most of their cattle counterparts are. it is not because of some genetic difference. Grass fed beef allows for a far range of meat options and tastes. I do have a greater problem. I bought your book but feel you have a 'fat fear' that since Taubes' book is unfounded. I wish the word lipid replaced the word fat when it comes to diet and nutrition.

  3. Hi, one of milk's main roles is to support infant (mammals or human) growth in order to avoid to be eaten by their predators. Having said that, milk has a wide array of hormones and peptides with growth promoting properties. Casein has the ability to increase IGF-1 serum levels, and IGF-1 is a key peptide in growth which is stimulated by Growth Hormone. On the other hand, whey produces an increase in insulin levels in blood, similar to that of high glycemic carbohydrates. It is not fully understood how whey proteins induce an increase in Insulin levels, but there are some putative substances such as Tryptophan, Leucine, Isoleucine and Glutamine, all of them aminoacids found in whey.

    I hope this makes things clearer

  4. Dear Loren, I was wondering if you had considered writing a book aimed at practitioners. small audience but The Zone was written for practitioners. Lane Sebring


The Paleo Diet Team invites you to leave comments or post questions to our blog. We receive a great amount of feedback, but we are not able to always answer personally. We read all comments, and we are very interested in hearing your thoughts, learning about your experiences, and understanding what questions you have. Note that we review all comments before publishing them on the blog. Comments posted that do not contain questions or comments related to paleo nutrition, or those that point to web sites that do not provide content that would be deemed helpful to our readers, will be rejected.

Thank you.
The Paleo Diet Team