The Paleo Way

The story of chef Pete Evans has been like that of many other people: he struggled with his and his family’s health issues, found a real food approach to eating, tried it and never looked back. The difference is that, unlike me and my friends, Pete Evans is famous and is cleverly making use of his public status to spread the word. Evans doesn’t care about the media thinking he’s a hippie or an extremist because he knows he can positively impact many lives if he just gets people to eat real food.

That’s how The Paleo Way, a TV series featuring Evans and numerous experts in the paleo world was born. This series has been self-founded and will be aired in Channel 7. Evans enlisted author and nutritional therapist Nora Gedgaudas and have been presenting a talk entitle The Paleo Way in several cities in Australia. I want to say it’s a promotional event for the series but it certainly had much more content than a typical marketing campaign.

The tickets for the event in Sydney sold out very quickly and they had to change venues. There were approximately 1000 people in the audience. Some were already paleo, but I’d say the majority were newish to the concept and came to find out more.

The event was MCd by personal trainer, former My Kitchen Rules contestant and cookbook author Luke Hines, who shared his experience with eating and living according to the paleo template. He challenged attendees to not eat food out of a packet for a week and to find about functional training.

Also present was singer Wes Carr, who also shared his personal story and newest projects.

Pete Evans presented the trailer for the TV series and spoke about the importance of knowing where our food comes from, choosing meat from animals that have eaten a natural diet, and eating nose-to-tail. He also reminded parents in the audience about their responsibility over what goes into their children’s bodies.

The Paleo Way: Pete Evans

Pete Evans

Whoever has already listened to Nora Gedgaudas noticed that she didn’t really say anything new, but I think it was valuable information for those who didn’t know her. In fact, I think it may have been too much information for some people.

The Paleo Way: Nora Gedgaudas

Nora Gedgaudas

I liked that she included citations in her slides for geeks like me who like to read the papers and not just read one-sentence summaries. I took note of the following interesting bits of information to dig up:

  • 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in Australia will develop cancer by age 85.
  • “The overall record of hominin activities is consistent through the stratified sequence – spanning hundreds to thousands of years – and provides the earliest archaeological evidence of sustained hominin involvement with fleshed animal remains (i.e., persistent carnivory), a foraging adaptation central to many models of hominin evolution.” (Ferraro et. al. 2013, article available here).
  • There’s a difference between “Ice Age” Paleolithic and “Neo-Paleolithic” (<10,000 years ago, i.e. more recent hunter-gatherer populations). Most of our history as humans developed in the "Ice Age" Paleolithic stage.
  • 200,000 years ago we were physiologically the same as now. We occupied every available niche. The foods available determined our shape and physiological requirements.
  • Fat to our physiology means survival. The body prioritises survival.
  • Nutrient density (i.e. dietary fat) was important for our ancestors.
  • As omnivores, we ate whatever was available. So we don’t know exactly what our ancestors ate but we know what they didn’t: processed foods, large amounts of grains, legumes, potatoes, etc.
  • Professor Michael P. Richards, through his work with Stable Isotopic Analysis has determined that early humans were high-level carnivores. We’re designed to get protein source from animal foods.
  • “The similarity in metabolic rates across a broad range of cultures challenges current models of obesity suggesting that Western lifestyles lead to decreased energy expenditure” (Pontzer et. al. 2012, article available here).
  • “In addition to meeting nutritional needs, animal foods also may have been associated with assisting in the colonization of new environments for hominins, allowing them to converge on a common dietary niche under different environmental conditions. By the later stages of hominin evolution, we have compelling evidence of high levels of meat consumption by Neanderthals… Upper Paleolithic humans appeared to forage on a broader and more geographically variable range of plants and animals. With the origins of agriculture, there was a shift again to more extensive exploitation of plants, including cereals. There was disagreement within the group about the extent to which humans have adapted or adjusted to the exploitation of cereal grains.” (Leonard and Robertson 1994, abstract available here).
  • Hunter-gatherer societies value animal fat.
  • More protein is not necessarily better for us for longevity.
  • Our genes have changed very little to accommodate for the consequences of agriculture. Agriculture also marked the beginning of “living to eat” as opposed to “eating to live”
  • Agriculture today produces massive environmental damage, pollution and water waste. Monocrops mean that humans are more vulnerable to mass famine.
  • “…a decrease in absolute brain size over the past 35,000 years within H. sapiens was paralleled by a corresponding decrease in average body size… This decrease continued through the Neolithic, at least in Europe.” (Ruff et. al. 1997, article available here)
  • Brain size has decreased from 1500 cm3 to 1350 cm3. Why? The brain is a fatty organ and conventional wisdom has pushed us to reduce fat intake. Essential fatty acids for the brain are arachidonic acid and DHA, present in meat and fish. Human brains also tend to shrink as we age.
  • We’re the only species that chooses to eat food we haven’t adapted to eat.
  • Brains are very expensive in energy terms.
  • All starch and carbohydrates are metabolised to sugar with the exception of fibre. Sugar causes glycation, which affects how we age, free radical activity, interference with fat metabolism, depletion of minerals, suppression of the immune system. The brain is especially vulnerable to glycation.
  • We now have an unnatural abundance of food. In the last 13 generations there has been a rapid rise in the amount of carbohydrates. The last 5 generations have seen an increase in the amount of trans fats and vegetable oils. The #1 carbohydrate source is HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). The #1 fat source is hydrogenated soybean oil.
  • Ron Rosedale, MD, after analysing centenarians and animal studies has determined that the marker for a long life are low insulin levels.
  • An interesting article by Dr John Briffa, mentioning Nora Gedgaudas
  • “The LCD [low-carbohydrate diet] is effective for normalizing blood glucose and preventing progression to type 2 diabetes in patients with IGT [impaired glucose tolerance].” (Maekawa et. al. 2014, article available here)
  • An increase in carbohydrate intake is correlated with a decrease in HDL (“good” cholesterol) and an increase in triglycerides). LDL become smaller and denser.
  • “the risk imposed by elevated fasting serum glucose levels on the development of AD may be present before the onset of diagnosed problems with glycemic control, and that it may be independent of the genetic risk associated with possession of the APOEe4 allele.” (Burns et. al. 2013, abstract available here)
  • “We found that increased risk [of dementia] was associated with higher glucose levels even at the lowest end of the glucose spectrum among people who had not received a diagnosis of diabetes, for whom increased risk was not likely to be a result of undiagnosed diabetes.” (Crane et. al. 2013, article available here)
  • Glucose is not the only primary source of fuel for the human body. Fat provides more calories per gram. Ketones are an stable energy source even in the absence of meals. Removes the term “blood sugar” from the mood and cognitive equation.
  • Feeling jittery, fatigued, bitchy or anything other than hungry after a meal is a sign of blood sugar issues.
  • All large mammals are designed to obtain the majority of their caloric intake from fat, through the bacterial fermentation of indigestible fibres. Humans don’t have bacterial fermentation-based digestion, but an hydrochloric acid-based digestion. Plus we have a poor conversion of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) to docosahexanoic acid (DHA), which is the primary fatty acid in brain. Therefore, we are better off getting the required amounts of fats from our diet, with emphasis in pre-formed DHA (fatty fish, grass-fed beef).
  • “Ketone bodies are a major fuel for the brain during the suckling period and hence the stimulation of ketogenesis at birth is an important metabolic event in adaptation of the newborn to extrauterine life.” (Medina and Tabernero 2005, abstract available here)
  • 11% of the brain is arachidonic acid.
  • “The large categories of disease for which ketones may have therapeutic effects are: (1) diseases of substrate insufficiency or insulin resistance, (2) diseases resulting from free radical damage, (3) disease resulting from hypoxia.” (Veech 2004, abstract available here)
  • In summary, our results suggest that experimental brain cancer is manageable through principles of metabolic control where plasma glucose levels are reduced and ketone body levels are elevated. Dietary energy restriction reduces tumour growth through effects on angiogenesis, apoptosis, and inflammation.” (Seyfried 2003, article available here).
  • “These associations may reflect a direct capacity for both
    dietary omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids to promote the atherosclerotic process… Whilst dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce the risk of thrombosis and might be expected to retard atherogenesis by lowering plasma levels of atherogenic lipoproteins, they may promote atherogenesis through
    their susceptibility to oxidative modification.” (Felton et. al. 1994, abstract available here)
  • “Despite the common belief that high cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary artery disease, several independent population studies in healthy adults have shown that low total cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular and non-cardiac mortality, indicating that high total cholesterol is not a risk factor in a healthy population.” (BMJ 2013, article available here)
  • “Current evidence does not clearly support cardiovascular guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats” (Chowdhury et. al. 2014, abstract available here)
  • Benefits from ketogenic diets include Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, schizophrenia, etc.
  • Cholesterol is important for membranes, steroidal hormones, normal cognitive function, etc.
  • According to Dr Richard Feinman, the deleterious effects of fats have always been measured in presence of carbohydrates.
  • Ketosis is defined as a concentration of 1-3 mmol/L of ketone bodies. It’s usually determined by measuring b-hydroxybutyrate levels. Ketonix is a new device that measures ketone bodies in breath. Measurement of ketone bodies in blood is the most accurate. To achieve this level, carbohydrate consumption must be less than 50-60 gras per day. Protein consumption must be less than 25 grams per day, so to avoid gluconeogenesis and prevent pathways that lead to aging. This way of eating is also cost-effective.
  • With all cognitive/mood problems it’s recommended to rule out gluten sensitivity.
  • Cyrex Labs, known as the best lab in the world for food sensitivities, are coming to Australia on December this year.
  • Autoimmunity is a silent epidemic. Poly-autoimmunity (multiple autoimmune diseases) is more the norm than the exception.
  • “During 45 years of follow-up, undiagnosed CD [celiac disease] was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased risk of death. (Rubio-Tapia et. al. 2009, article available here)
  • Food sensitivity impacts blood glucose and insulin through inflammation.
  • Sensitivity to gluten is a gateway food sensitivity via zonulin, which controls intestinal permeability.
  • Half of cases of gluten sensitivity have cross-reactivity with dairy sensitivity.
  • “Celiac disease autoimmunity may develop at any age, even in the elderly. During the past three decades the prevalence of celiac disease increased 5-fold in the US.” (abstract available here)
  • We should shoot for grass-fed meat because it’s more similar to wild game. CAFO meat has less omega-3 fatty acids, less beta-carotene and is implicated in more E.coli outbreaks.
  • What to do? Avoid the temptation of food as cheap entertainment, take time out, eat plant foods as detoxifying source of antioxidants and micronutrients, avoid GMOs, irradiated foods, supplement when needed.

Nora’s talk was followed by a short Q&A session with all the speakers. I felt the Q&A should have been longer, especially considering the audience size and mixed levels of knowledge.

The Paleo Way: Q&A

The Paleo Way: Q&A

The Paleo Way: Q&A


BMJ 2013;347:f6340

Burns CM, Chen K, Kaszniak AW, Lee W, Alexander GE, Bandy D, Fleisher AS, Caselli RJ, and Reiman EM (2013) Higher serum glucose levels are associated with cerebral hypometabolism in Alzheimer regions. Neurology, 80(17), 1557–1564.

Catassi C, Kryszak D, Bhatti B, Sturgeon C, Helzlsouer K, Clipp SL, Gelfond D, Puppa E, Sferruzza A, and Fasano A (2010). Natural history of celiac disease autoimmunity in a USA cohort followed since 1974. Annals of Medicine, 42, 530–538.

Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, et al. (2014). Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids With Coronary Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med., 160, 398-406.

Crane PK, Walker R, Hubbard RA, Li G, Nathan DM, Zheng H, Haneuse S, Craft S, Montine TJ, Kahn SE, McCormick W, McCurry SM, Bowen JD, and Larson EB (2013) Glucose levels and risk of dementia. N Engl J Med., 369(6), 540-8.

Felton CV, Crook D, Davies MJ, and Oliver MF (1994). Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques. The Lancet, 344(8931), 1195-1196.

Ferraro JV, Plummer TW, Pobiner BL, Oliver JS, Bishop LC, et al. (2013) Earliest Archaeological Evidence of Persistent Hominin Carnivory. PLoS ONE 8(4),

Leonard WR and Robertson ML (1994), Evolutionary perspectives on human nutrition: The influence of brain and body size on diet and metabolism. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 6, 77–88.

Maekawa S, Kawahara T, Nomura R, Murase T, Ann Y, Oeholm M, and Harada M. (2014) Retrospective study on the efficacy of a low-carbohydrate diet for impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes., 7, 195-201.

Medina JM and Tabernero A (2005). Lactate utilization by brain cells and its role in CNS development. J Neurosci Res. 79(1-2), 2-10.

Pontzer H, Raichlen DA, Wood BM, Mabulla AZP, Racette SB, et al. (2012) Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity. PLoS ONE 7(7), e40503.

Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK, Lahr BD, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd, Murray JA (2009). Gastroenterology, 137(1), 88-93.

Ruff, C. B., Trinkaus, E., & Holliday, T. W. (1997). Body mass and encephalization in pleistocene homo. Nature, 387(6629), 173-6.

Seyfried TN, Sanderson TM, El-Abbadi MM, McGowan R, Mukherjee P (2003). Role of glucose and ketone bodies in the metabolic control of experimental brain cancer. Br J Cancer, 89(7), 1375-82.

Veech RL (2004). The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 70(3), 309-19.

9 thoughts on “The Paleo Way

  1. Thanks for coming along to the event. I am glad you got a lot out of it and was able to condense it to share with on your page. I would be keen to get a peruvian dish from you to put in one of my new books. shoot me an email if you like.

      1. One quick question. You note in one of the above points that protein should be less than 25g per day. Should this per meal?

      2. No, this is total net protein per day. Excess protein gets converted to glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis, so it’s unlikely you will get into ketosis if you consume too much protein. Of course, metabolic pathways work differently for different individuals but 25g/day is a safe threshold (and it’s also very low… I know!).

  2. Thanks for the detailed note taking and sharing with us. I was at the Melbourne event and it was a lot to take in and some food for thought for me. Paleo has been a quantum leap for this long term vegetarian and sometimes carb addict

  3. Also thanks for the notes, I was at the Melb. event also and it was doing my head in all the scientific evidence. I was already sold on the Paleo way, but had trouble understanding some of the facts. This is great!

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