130: Eating Like a Caveman with Robb Wolf
“Don’t use a lack of grass-fed meats, the ideal option, etc, to deter your diet. Following a diet is all about making do with what you’ve got.” – Robb Wolf
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Debates about which diets are the best can be some of the most polarizing, intense conversations you’ll have. It seems everyone has their own opinions about what is healthiest and best, with their own well-thought-out arguments to support their stance, and yet their opinions contradict each other. How are you supposed to know what to eat?!
Today’s guest is Robb Wolf, and while this episode is all about a paleo approaching to eating, Robb Wolf will be the first to recommend that you experiment constantly, to find out what works best for you. Everybody is different and will respond to diets differently, so the most important thing is that you not get religious about the diet you choose, but that you remain open-minded about ways that you could improve what you’re eating to get better health and energy results.
With that in mind, the body of work is immense on reasons why the paleo diet both makes the most sense and is the most healthy diet that we know. If you’re looking for the best way to maximize health and energy in the foods you eat, then the paleo diet is probably what you’re looking for. So get ready to learn about it from one of the top experts, on this episode of the James Swanwick Show.
“Don’t believe what I say. Test every diet on your own body, see how you respond, and then go with that.” – Robb Wolf
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Notes on the Show:
- Paleo is not about trying to go back to the dark ages, but rather looking at the ways our bodies evolved, and how that affects the food that will give us the most energy and vibrancy in our lives
- Our ancestors ate very protein and fat-heavy diets, with carbs playing a role occasionally, but not on a regular basis. So that is the diet that works best for our bodies
- The immediate benefits of switching to a paleo diet is that inflammation will go down in our bodies
- Paleo diets help increase testosterone in men, which is essential to a man’s health
- If you’re going to drink alcohol, switch from beer to tequila or bourbon
- Get rid of pasta and rice because of the gluten in them. Almost everyone feels better when they remove gluten from their diet
- While grass-fed meats are ideal, don’t get stuck on the idea that they must be grassfed to make it healthy
- Grass-fed ground beef has become very easy to find in places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods
- For fruits and vegetables, make sure that you are eating a wide variety of colors
- Varying spices is a great way to mix up the taste of the food you eat, while keeping the actual content similar and healthy
- Good fats actually help you lose fat when you eat them
- Avoid using herb mixes, as they tend to have large amounts of sodium. Try to use the individual spice, whole if you can
- Be very careful of fruit juices, even if they are fresh squeezed. It usually just ends up being far too much fruit in one cup
- Be careful not to go too low on carbs if you do a lot of heavy training
- Be experimental in your diets. Don’t be religious about anything, but trying it all out, and see what works best for your body makeup
- Be creative about finding the healthy options at the places you and your friends like the eat
2 Steps to Start Eating Paleo
- Gut the pantry. Get rid of all the bad food in your house
- Shop and provision the house with good sources of all nutrients. Robb’s Free Shopping Guide
“The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet” – book by Robb Wolf
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James Swanwick: Today we’re talking about diet and nutrition for men. More specifically, why we should eat like a caveman to boost testosterone and eliminate disease. Today’s guest is one of the world’s leading experts in the paleo diet, otherwise known as the caveman diet of the stone age diet or the hunter gatherer diet. He’s a former research biochemist. He’s the author of the New York Times, best-selling book, The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet. He has transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world by his top-ranked iTunes podcast, The Paleo Solution. It’s a big welcome to Robb Wolf. Robb, welcome to the Alpha XY club.
Robb Wolf: Huge honor to be here. I had no idea I was an alpha male. It’s good to get that validation.
James Swanwick: Well, congratulations on being an alpha male, Robb. We appreciate your time.
Robb Wolf: Thank you. Thank you. It made my year. Thank you.
James Swanwick: Well, then, Robb, just before we get into this — I just want to tell our listeners and viewers, for all you guys out there who are already on the paleo diet I am going to be asking Robb some questions on how you might be able to improve your eating lifestyle, maybe tweak it a little bit. It’s not just for those who don’t know about the paleo. It’s for those who are also on the paleo as well. Robb, let’s kick this off. What is the paleo diet?
Robb Wolf: The whole paleo concept should be viewed as a template for making informed decisions. It’s not an attempt at historical revisionism, going back and living like a caveman like scratching around under trees and catching fleas and stuff like that. What we’re doing is drawing from evolutionary biology, genetics, anthropology, to make well-informed decisions about the way our physiology operates so that we can take the best of what we have today with medicine and the internet and social media and whatnot but also drag some of the hidden gems of nutrition and metabolic advantage that we can get by looking at the way our ancestors lived, the way that our genetics were formed over the course of time and bring that forward to the modern experience.
James Swanwick: How did our ancestors eat? How did the cavemen eat back then?
Robb Wolf: It’s funny. People assume that it’s easier to catch carrots and broccoli than it is to hunt bison and kangaroo or whatever. When anthropologists look at radiocarbon dating of our bones, radio isotopic dating, it’s clear that we ate a protein and fat heavy diet. We obviously had tons of fruit, vegetables, roots, tubers but we tend to eat a significant amount of protein, good amounts of fat. Then the carbohydrate was somewhat variable throughout the season and even throughout the day-to-day, week-to-week. What kind of emerges out of that is something that looks a lot like a cyclic low carb diet. You have periods of lower carbohydrate intake, periods of higher carbohydrate intake but a consistency of good quality protein, good quality fats and a lot of very nutrient dense foods. When we reconstruct our hunter-gatherer diets and even look at contemporary hunter-gatherer diets, they’re very, very high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, things that we know are very beneficial for health.
James Swanwick: In a nutshell, our ancestors ate very high protein and fat heavy diets — in a nutshell, you’re encouraging us to eat lean meats and lots of vegetables, right?
Robb Wolf: Yeah. At the end of the day that’s really what we’re talking about. Then for hard charging athletes, then we would throw in things like yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, taro, yucca, some carbohydrate dense products that help replenish muscle glycogen to get you ready for another workout. The other side of this is if we have somebody who is insulin resistant. If they carry fat through the midsection. If they’re not at a level of leanness that they want, then we tend to keep the carbohydrates a little restricted and that’s for a limited period of time till we get somebody down to a good level of body composition. Their abs are up, they look good, their bloodwork looks good. Then we start titrating the carbohydrates up to meet their activity level.
James Swanwick: Okay. We’re eating lots of meats and vegetables and we’re going to get into that a little bit later about what meats we should eat and what vegetables, etcetera. What are the general health benefits from eating paleo? Especially for men, a lot of our listeners and viewers today are men. If we switch to this diet, we get rid of things like pasta and rice and all that kind of stuff and we go onto this paleo diet, what are the health benefits that we’re going to experience in the short term, I’m talking like 30 days, and then the long term, talking like, maybe 30 years?
Robb Wolf: The immediate health benefits are that we reduce inflammation in the body. An inflammation is a normal process. It’s involved in our immune response. We have an inflammatory response when we fight off a cold or a bacterial infection. We have an inflammatory response when we respond to exercise. Some of the recovery that we get after we’ve done a heavy set of squats or sprints is actually the immune system getting in and chewing up pieces of broken protein fragments to help us recovery. If we have a diet that is pro inflammatory and really it’s a lifestyle that’s pro inflammatory, inadequate sleep, inadequate vitamin D, foods that maybe are irritating to our immune system, then our immune response is on hyper alert. That is very problematic because instead allocating some of our resources towards recovery, we’re always allocating it towards a response towards foods that are problematic, towards lifestyle features that are problematic.
When we make these recommendations, we’re looking at sleep, we’re looking at vitamin D levels, we’re looking at smart exercise in conjunction with the food. It’s not just a dietary feature. This is this overall kind of Darwinian or evolutionary medicine approach. We’re not just talking food. We’re talking a lot of different lifestyle features too.
James Swanwick: Absolutely. I know that eating paleo is particularly good for boosting testosterone levels in men, isn’t it? Why is that and why is testosterone important for men?
Robb Wolf: You know, if we reduce abnormal levels of insulin, insulin is an anabolic hormone, it’s very important, it’s critical for life, but when people start gaining body fat because their insulin levels are too high, too often, their carbohydrate levels are too high, too often. We tend to lay down fat, particularly abdominal fat or what they call visceral fat. This fat has a horrible feature to it which is that it aromatizes testosterone into estrogen. It basically turns you from a man into a woman more or less.
James Swanwick: Yeah. None of our listeners and viewers want to turn into a woman, Robb.
Robb Wolf: Yeah. I mean, woman are great but it’s kind of like keep the aces in their places. One of the really important features of maintaining a good body composition for men in particular, is that we maintain the proper testosterone to estrogen balance. Men do need some estrogen. It’s important for normal hair. It’s important for normal libido. People aren’t aware of that but we don’t want to shift that ratio to far in the estrogen dominant direction. Inflammation can also be problematic. I was just mentioning inflammation a moment ago. Inflammation can actually ramp up the immune system such that the immune system can have autoimmune effects in our body similar to lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis. In some individuals this can actually attack the lytic cells in the testicles and impair testosterone production. There’s a number of different ways that testosterone production can be impaired by either elevated insulin levels or accentuated inflammatory response.
James Swanwick: Sure. In a nutshell though, if we stick to a paleo diet our testosterone levels are going to be considerably better than what they may be if we’re not on the paleo diet.
Robb Wolf: Absolutely. We have some epidemiological examples, like the Okinawans that don’t eat a paleo diet per say but it’s very similar. They get the bulk of their carbohydrates from yams and sweet potatoes. They eat a lot of protein from pork and fish. They tend to see very good DHEA levels and testosterone estrogen levels even into advanced age. DHEA is the precursor hormone which flows or cascades into testosterone and estrogen. One of the primary features of effective aging is maintaining good DHEA, good growth hormone signaling, which also flows into good testosterone and estrogen whether you’re male or female.
James Swanwick: Okay. Great. Look, just before you tell us what kind of foods we should be eating, when and how and all that kind of stuff, just tell us your story Robb. Before you discovered paleo, what were you eating? What was your health like? When you started eating paleo style, what transformation happened in your own life?
Robb Wolf: Way back in the day I was a California state powerlifting champion. I competed in the 82.5 kilo class, had a 565-pound squat, 565 dead lift and a 345 bench as a teenage powerlifter. Pretty good, I was a relatively lean, muscular athlete at 5’9″. I could stand flat foot under a basketball hoop and flat foot dunk a tennis ball. Pretty lean, pretty strong, had always eaten kind of high protein, high carb body builder type diet. In the mid 90’s this idea of eating more grains, lower protein, lower fat, became very much in vogue and I shifted my macronutrients such that I was eating much lower protein, much lower fat, much higher carb mainly from grain, legume sources. Eventually became vegan in the whole process. I just thought that that was the way that you did things. That would be healthier. Some kind of moral considerations there.
What was interesting, I still maintained my exercise regimen the same, tried to do some kickboxing, tried to maintain my powerlifting. I went from a pretty lean, muscular 185 pounds, 82 kilos and I deteriorated down to about 135, 140 pounds because I developed ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, all kinds of horrible poop related things. Out of desperation, this idea popped into my head that maybe these grains and legumes were problematic. I started doing some research. This idea of a paleo diet made it onto my radar about this time. When I switched my eating to excluding grains and legumes, getting my carbs from fruits, vegetables, roots, and tubers, eating good amounts of protein and fat, it was literally like a night and day shift.
This is almost 15 years ago. Now at age 40, I’m about 178 to 180 pounds, probably about 7% body fat. My numbers are not where they were before as a powerlifter but I compete in old dude jujitsu tournaments and stuff like that and I do really well. I have great energy, solid sleep, good performance and I feel really good, particularly when I look at the other folks in my age cohort who are not eating the same way.
James Swanwick: Wow. Okay. That was a big transformation. For all our listeners and viewers out there who maybe feel like they’re 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds, 40 pounds overweight at the moment and generally feel unhealthy, is what you’re about to teach us going to A. Cut their fat and B. make them healthier overall?
Robb Wolf: Yeah. It’s kind of like if somebody’s head is being held underwater, pulling it out and giving them a breath of air will be beneficial. If we can get people eating even moderately towards this kind of evolutionary approach they will look, feel and perform better. Biomarkers of health and disease will improve. It’s typically a win-win, no matter how you look at it.
James Swanwick: Okay. Great. All the guys out there who are wanting to lose a little extra weight, maybe they want to get some abs for the first time, maybe they just want to create a whole lot of energy, Robb is going to talk us through now what you need to do. Alright. Robb, what is the first step? We’ve got guys out there who’ve got food in their kitchen and their pantry, maybe they eat out a few times a week. What changes do they need to make as step one to really start getting into this paleo diet?
Robb Wolf: Well, you mentioned the pantry and that is actually critical. You’ve got to go home and gut the house. I like to joke and say that you bag up all the junk food, take it to the local food bank and accelerate the death of the homeless. You’re giving them the bad food and I say that in jest. It’s really kind of true in a way. If you don’t take care of the home front, if you don’t remove all of the snack food and the problematic food, the likelihood of success is very, very low. We don’t lay in bed at night dreaming about pork loin and chicken breast. We think about Little Debbie Snack Cakes and Haagen-Dazs. You’ve really got to clean out the house first. The second thing is that you need to go out and shop and actually provision the house so that you’ve got good protein sources, good carb sources from fruits and vegetables.
If you don’t know how to cook, a really simple implement you can use is a slow cooker. You’re going to end up eating a lot of soups and stews which is very easy and a time efficient way to make good food. You’ve got to clean out the house first. Second, you’ve got to go out and provision the — what you’re actually going to eat. On my website robbwolf.com, I have a 30-day shopping and food guide. You don’t have to figure any of this stuff out. You download it, print it out, take it with you to the super market, buy what it recommends. Some of the things may be a little exotic but typically people have certain foods that they know and are familiar with. Stick with what you know and then just — which typically that’s involving the protein sources. Then you just need to fill in the fruits and veggies for the stuff that you’re familiar with and you like.
James Swanwick: Okay. Let’s go through step one first. You’re talking about gutting the house, gutting the pantry and bagging up all the junk food in it. What food are we talking about here? What are traditional foods that guys keep in their pantry or in their fridge that you need to say — that you want to tell them, get in there and get it out.
Robb Wolf: Pasta, rice, cookies, crackers, beer. We’re going to shift people more towards drinking tequila instead of beer which I love. Few people on the planet love beer as much as I do. If you want good body composition, you’re better off drinking tequila or bourbon or something like that than you are beer. These refined carbohydrate sources, sugary foods like cookies and ice cream, cakes. Most people — really if you hold their feet to the fire and you’re like, is this good food, they’re going to know what it is. It’s funny, they will ‘hm’ and ‘hah’ and make some allowances. I’m really not a huge fan of protein shakes. I would ask people for a 30-day period to try to forgo meal replacement shakes and stuff like that. I find that people get better body composition by eating whole real food. Those are the things that you’re going to remove out of the pantry as the first go.
James Swanwick: Okay. We’re talking about pasta, rice, cookies, crackers, beer, any sugary foods, like ice cream, cakes and protein shakes. Let’s — I just want to talk about two of those foods there, pasta and rice. Not many people would think that those are actually bad for you. Why are they?
Robb Wolf: The pasta is problematic for two reasons. It has a high insulin load because of the carbohydrate content which is also true of rice. Then for a lot of people wheat containing items, wheat, rye, oats, barley, millet, all those grains contain a protein called gluten. That gluten can be very pro inflammatory for a lot of folks. Not everybody but it’s shocking how many people notice that they feel much better, have better digestion, better sleep when they remove gluten containing items which is another checkmark against beer as well, also part of the reason why beer tastes so damn good. Rice or white rice, if I’ve got somebody who is a lean, hard charging athlete and every once in a while they want to use white rice as their post workout carbs, I have no problem with that. If I’ve got somebody who is significantly overweight, they have some clear systemic inflammatory issues, they carry fat through the midsection, I’m going to really limit things like rice because of the dense carbohydrate content.
James Swanwick: Yeah. Absolutely. Okay. Pasta and white rice, we know full of gluten, very pro inflammatory. We want to get rid of any kind of sugary foods like cookies, crackers, beer. You know what’s bad for you really. People really know what’s in the pantry and what’s bad. Okay. That’s step one. We’re going to have — it’s almost like an intervention. Right, you’re walking in, you get the bag, you’re going to bag it all up, you’re going to get it all out of there.
Robb Wolf: Exactly.
James Swanwick: Okay. We’ve done that. Now we’ve got an empty fridge and an empty pantry. We want to go to the store. We want to go and buy some foods. What foods are we looking to buy here?
Robb Wolf: I like to start off with the protein. The sky is the limit on this. We’re talking about chicken, beef, pork, fish, lamb, kangaroo, alligator. I mean, whatever you’ve got, this is what we want to go for. Ideally we’re talking, grass-fed, pastured. Interestingly, if you’re not in the United States, then that’s easy to find. Only the United States is kind of the — United States and Canada are kind of the primary places that we’re actually grain feeding our meat which changes the fatty acid profile, makes it less healthy. Even that said, if the only meat sources that you have are grain fed, that’s not the end of the world. We take a little bit of fish oil to balance out the omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and you’re fine. We start off with good fat or good protein. Add some good fats like coconut oil, olive oil and butter, ideally the butter is grass-fed also. Butter is kind of in a gray area in the whole paleo land but I tend to like it for most folks. \
Then we’ve got fruits and vegetables. The vegetables should run the spectrum of colors, the whole ROYGBIV from physics, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Get a multitude of different colored vegetables. This is great for prostate health. This is great as an anti-cancer antiaging tactic because of the phytonutrients in these vegetables. Then depending on where you are in your insulin sensitivity and leanness — if you’re pretty lean, pretty active, then we would throw in yams, sweet potatoes, taro, yucca if you’ve got that for your dense carbohydrate sources that we would tend to eat post work out. That’s — and also, good herbs and spices because people complain about getting bored. The herbs and spices can really change things up a lot.
James Swanwick: Okay. Let’s just talk about that protein again for a second on step two. We’re wanting to buy our meats. Now, you talked about the importance of getting grass-fed beef or grass-fed meat versus the grain fed in the United States. Now, why is grass — sorry, why is grain fed beef so bad for the human body as opposed to the grass-fed? Just elaborate on that a little bit, will you, Robb?
Robb Wolf: I wouldn’t even say that it’s horrible for folks but it’s just less good. The difference there is that grass-fed meat contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, the long chain version, EPA and DHA which is what we get out of fish. We have essential fats in the omega-3 family and the omega-6 family. The omega-6 tends to be a little pro inflammatory. The omega-3 tends to be anti-inflammatory. When we grain feed our meats, it tends to be a little heavy in omega-6. It tends to be a little bit more pro inflammatory.
There’s also some interesting chemicals, keratinoids, these antioxidant beta-carotene type constituents that get imbued into the meat when we grass feed it. We don’t get any of that when it’s grain fed. When we look at vitamin E levels, zinc, magnesium levels, it tends to be higher in grass-fed meat than in grain fed meat. The takeaway is that grass-fed meat is just more nutrient dense, has more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etcetera. It’s not a deal breaker if the main source of meat that you have is grain fed or if budgetary reasons confine you to grain fed meat. It shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
I have a hippy excuse for failure. Number one, I can’t find grass-fed meat so I’ll eat a bagel. Hippy excuse for failure number two I can’t find organic produce, so I’ll eat a bagel. Conventional produce is very nutritious, very, very healthy. Would we like to support a decentralized organic farming? Yes. Again, if it’s not immediately available, if it’s a budgetary consideration that would be a deal breaker, then we just go with conventional produce, we’d go with grain fed meat.
James Swanwick: Yeah. A question about the fat on a — let’s just say we’re in a restaurant and we order a T-bone steak or a rump or whatever it is. If we’re in the United States and that steak is grain fed, should we remove the fat that comes with that steak? If we’re in another country where it’s grass-fed, is it healthy to eat that fat or should we remove that fat as well?
Robb Wolf: The grass-fed fat I would almost universally eat. The only place, even with the grain fed meat, that I would end up trimming the fat is if we have somebody who is really trying to induce, in addition to dropping insulin levels from limiting carbohydrate intake, if we trim some of that fat then we’re just going to drop our overall caloric load. If the person is really trying to lean out, then that’s a great way to cut a significant chunk of calories out of that meal. That said, even if I had somebody who was trying to lean out and they had a good cut of grass-fed meat, I would be really hesitant to toss that stuff. It’s just like a very tasty vitamin when you get down to it.
James Swanwick: I love the fat on steak. It’s so tasty.
Robb Wolf: Yeah. That would be the only point where I would trim fat is if somebody is really making an effort at fat loss and they’re trying to limit calories in addition to carbohydrates.
James Swanwick: Okay. Great. Now, the other thing is — we mentioned the price because if you’re in the united states and you want to buy grass-fed beef, it costs a lot more than it does the traditional, doesn’t it? Have you got any tips for how our listeners and viewers can reduce that cost while they’re buying the grass-fed beef?
Robb Wolf: If you can find a local producer of grass-fed meat, then you can buy a half of cow or a quarter cow at a time which will dramatically drop the price. Many stores now, Safeway, Raley’s, Wholefoods, Trader Joes, all of these locations carry a few cuts of grass-fed meat at the minimums and particularly grass-fed ground beef. Usually, you can find it for between four to six dollars a pound which may be a little bit more expensive than say just conventional ground beef but it tastes very good and it’s very, very healthy. You could look for grass-fed ground beef. Even if your local supermarket doesn’t carry it, if you request it, they typically will add it to the offerings.
James Swanwick: Okay. Alright. Step one, we gut out the house of all the bad stuff. Step two, we’ve bought a whole bunch of protein. Any animal, if it had a face and some eyes, you can eat it. Right, Robb?
Robb Wolf: Exactly. Exactly.
James Swanwick: Let’s deal with step three which is fruits and vegetables. Obviously we’re talking about the rainbow colors there. The more colors of the fruits and vegetables you got the better — just list the all the fruits and vegetables we should eat. Then, are there any fruits and vegetables that which we should avoid or limit?
Robb Wolf: I think it’s even easier to just mention the ones to limit. Bananas, mango, papaya. For somebody who’s trying to lean out, those things can be problematic. When we start looking at the carbohydrate content and the caloric content of most fruits and vegetables, kale, broccoli, spinach, even carrots, artichokes, these things are very low carbohydrate density. On my website I have this thing called the food matrix where I have a list of like 20 proteins, 20 or 30 different recommended vegetables, some cooking oils, then about 30 different spices.
When you use that food matrix, it’s interesting. If you were to do a lamb plus broccoli plus coconut oil and then you changed the spices, either ginger, garlic, curry, black pepper, red pepper, that is an entirely different meal using almost identical ingredients but because of the change in the seasoning, it ends up changing the whole meal. Using that food matrix, you can get an idea of what vegetables plug into the scene very easy and then also get a little bit of an aptitude using different spices as well, which is what’s really going to make the meal different instead of getting really repetitious.
James Swanwick: Why do we have to limit bananas and mango and papaya?
Robb Wolf: The tropical fruits tend to be pretty carbohydrate dense. Again, if you’ve got somebody who is lean, active — the tropical fruits were actually very good as a post workout option. For folks who are trying to lean out, trying to lose some body fat, you would want to limit those until you get down to an acceptable body fat level.
James Swanwick: Okay. Great. Great. We’ve talked about the buying of protein, the fruits and vegetables. Let’s talk about fats a little bit. You mentioned before coconut oil, butter and some fish oil. Now, a lot of people — this is probably the most confusing thing with people. People are thinking, right, I want to lose fat from my body. That means I’ve got to cut out fat but there are actually good fats that actually help you burn the bad fat in your body. Did that make sense, right?
Robb Wolf: Right. Yeah.
James Swanwick: Just clarify that for us, will you?
Robb Wolf: Fish oil, we wouldn’t cook with fish oil for example, you know these omega-3 fats. They tend to make us insulin sensitive. They tend to accelerate our metabolic process. Those things are great in a fat loss leaning out process. The fats that we want to cook with like coconut oil, olive oil, maybe some butter, those things are great. Again, when we tackle this thing, you do in a lean out process want to tackle two pieces. One is limiting carbohydrate intake which helps to reduce insulin levels which is very beneficial for fat loss. We do need to endue some sort of a caloric deficit. This is where using our cooking oils, like coconut oil, butter, olive oil, you don’t want to go crazy on that stuff. I have seen people assume that if they have low carbohydrate, that they can eat fat just ad libitum. They can eat as much of it as they want.
Typically, fat and protein is very satiating but I do find that some people — they can throw a whole can of coconut milk into a curry, eat that curry, and they just consumed a thousand calories in a sitting. At some point the calories do add up and they do matter. You use these good fats to add flavor, to create a sense of satiety, but you don’t go overboard on it such that you ended maintaining body fat or maybe even gaining body fat. The calories do count at the end of the day but we find that if people are eating fewer carbs, more protein, moderate amounts of fat, that they’re very satiated, they don’t get hungry and it’s easier for them to eat a caloric deficit in that scenario.
James Swanwick: Would you include avocado as a good natural [crosstalk 00:27:52] there?
Robb Wolf: Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.
James Swanwick: Okay. I know that since I’ve started taking notice of the Paleo diet, I’ve added a lot of coconut oil into my diet. Instead of cooking in olive oil or sunflower oil, I get a scoop of the coconut oil, put that in and I cook my eggs in that, cook my steak, cook my beef. Not only is it very flavorsome but it’s also a good fat, so very healthy for me, right?
Robb Wolf: Yeah. The coconut oil is interesting. It was vilified because it’s a saturated fat but it’s a medium chain triglyceride. When we consume fats because they — oil and water does not mix. We usually need to take longer chain fats like what we would get out of olive oil. They get packaged into this thing called a chylomicron. That’s what floats through our body until it hits our liver. The liver processes the fat and then distributes it through the body. The medium chain triglycerides like in butter and coconut oil are interesting. They actually associate with the albumin, the protein in our blood and they get distributed that way. They’re able to go into the mitochondria, the little energy furnace in our cells, directly without the shuttling that usually accompanies other fats. They tend to be a little bit faster burning. They provide a more immediate energy source. Coconut is interesting. It’s made of lauric acid and monolauric acid is very beneficial for the gut. It has antimicrobial activity, antiviral activity. It is a very healthy fat on a variety of levels.
James Swanwick: Okay. Let’s talk about step five now, herbs and spices. You touched on that before. It can really change the whole complexion of a meal. What are the top herbs and spices that you recommend and what are herbs and spices that maybe aren’t so great for you?
Robb Wolf: My favorite, ginger, garlic, curry and even within curry, we have a vast assortment of curries. You’ve got, red, green, yellow panang, fish based curries. There’s a whole world of curries just under that category. Black pepper, salt, gosh, red pepper, basil, thyme. The list of herbs and spices is just staggering. Those are kind of the main ones that I go for. I tend to particularly group around gingers, curries, garlic, black pepper. That’s probably 80% of my meals. As far as things that you wouldn’t want to use, some of the herb mixes, sometimes have a lot of sugar in it, sometimes have a ton of sodium in it and you kind of — most people if they reduce carbohydrate levels, their sodium intake isn’t that big of a deal. They can have a fair amount of salt and it’s not a problem.
About 20% of the population though really responds poorly to dietary sodium. They want to keep an eye on that with regards to how it effects their blood pressure. I would say that probably the main problematic herbs and spices would be more the mixes because of the potential of hidden sugar, some other hidden ingredients in there. Sticking again largely to whole spices other than things like curries which obviously are mixed themselves.
James Swanwick: Absolutely. Okay. Let’s move on to step six then. We’re talking about drinks. Lots of people like to drink soda or Coca-Cola, fruit juices, Gatorade, Powerade, red bull, whatever you want. Tell us what’s good first in terms of what we can drink and tell us what’s bad for us.
Robb Wolf: Oh, man. The approved list is unfortunately kind of short. It’s water, coffee, tea. Water, coffee, tea. Maybe some coconut water for post workout. There’s not — when you start getting into the fruit juices, the sodas, the carbohydrate load that you get, the pro inflammatory effect that you get from these things is really, really powerful. It seems like it should be a healthy thing to go swig down 16 ounces of orange juice but it’s really not. The amount of sugar that you get, it’s equivalent to eating like four or five oranges back-to-back just in carbohydrate content. Then it enters our system much more quickly because we’ve juiced it. We’ve turned it into a liquid form and we can just shotgun this stuff down.
The approved drink list, it’s coffee, herb tea, green tea, black tea, white tea, mate. There’s a lot of stuff in that genre that you can go for. People are typically not familiar with it. Then, within that, people can turn coffee which is an otherwise pretty good item into a really problematic item when they do things like Coffee-Mate because they have a ton of sugar, putting teaspoons of sugar in there. Ideally we’re doing the coffee either black or we’re throwing some whole whipping cream in there. Some people are now taking a shaker cup, putting their coffee into a shaker cup and adding maybe some grass-fed butter, some coconut oil, little bit of cream, shaking that up. That stuff is delicious. It’s a great beneficial fat source in that form too.
James Swanwick: Let’s just talk about coffee and juice there for a second. Let’s deal with coffee first. Is there a big difference between having a black coffee and having say a cappuccino or a latte?
Robb Wolf: The cappuccino, depending on how much milk is added to it, it may not be that big of a deal. If you were making these at home, you can use the whole whipping cream in place of the milk. Same deal with the latte, you can usually, even at a Starbucks or some of the larger coffee shops, they will typically carry manufacturing cream which is whole whipping cream. You can have them make a cappuccino or a latte using the whole whipping cream which I think is far more beneficial. The mochas and all that stuff — it’s just — you might as well just drink chocolate milk. That’s [inaudible 00:33:45] what you’re doing.
James Swanwick: Like a mochaccino, it’s pretty bad for you, huh?
Robb Wolf: It depends on if they add sugar to it or how much milk is in there. A cappuccino could be reasonably benign but you can also turn it into a train wreck by adding a bunch of sugar to it.
James Swanwick: Then just talking about juices again, a lot of people struggle with this. I know you touched on this earlier but people go how can orange juice be bad for you when it’s filled with oranges? You’re encouraging our listeners and viewers to eat fruits like oranges. How does it get bad from the whole form of being just an orange to when it’s actually orange juice in a plastic bottle?
Robb Wolf: Really it boils down to when we process that fruit, turn it into juice, you can consume the equivalent of like four or five pieces of fruit in a very quick order. If you think about it, how long would it take most people to sit down and eat five oranges back-to-back? It would take a long time. Most people would tap out after two or three of them. You need to be reasonable motivated to get five oranges down by peeling them, chewing them, eating them. Whereas when we have juiced an orange, a large glass of orange juice is easily going to be equivalent to three to five oranges. It’s no problem to shotgun that stuff down. It makes it easier to consume more and even if we consume a smaller amount, that because it is just all the fiber is gone and we’re able to get it down quickly so that sugar enters the system very, very quickly. When that sugar hits the system, it tends to be pro inflammatory, it tends to elevate insulin levels. The processing is really where the problem arises.
James Swanwick: One food we didn’t mention earlier, Robb, was eggs. Are eggs okay for you? I know that they’re very high in protein but people always wonder if I’m going to eat the yolk it’s filled with carbohydrates, I’m going to put on fat. Just dispel the myths or really explain eggs for us once and for all.
Robb Wolf: Yeah. Eggs are great and they have cholesterol but tons and tons of studies have demonstrated that typically people see lower blood cholesterol levels with the consumption of eggs. It’s a little bit counterintuitive. The egg yolk actually carries a lot of lutein which is a very fat soluble antioxidant, very beneficial preventing macular degeneration which is a deterioration of eyesight. Eggs are actually really good. They get a horrible rap all the time. They’re tasty. They’re convenient. They’re portable because you can make things like a quiche or an omelet, throw it in a Ziploc bag or in a Tupperware container, take it with you to work. Eggs are a really, really good option.
James Swanwick: Why do all these places, restaurants say, serving egg whites as if like you have the full egg, something like doomsday is going to happen.
Robb Wolf: It’s this whole fat phobia, cholesterol phobia which the literature has been very clear. Dietary fat is not the thing that’s causing cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes. Excessive carbohydrate, coupled with generally excessive calorie content is really the problem that we’re facing with all of that.
James Swanwick: Okay. I’m going to get you to give us a few little recipes as well, maybe what food you’d like to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just before we get into it, let’s just go over the steps you’ve given us so far. Step one, gut the house, gut the pantry, bag up all the junk food, remove all of that snack stuff. We’re talking pasta and rice and cookies and crackers and beer and sugary foods, protein shakes, anything with gluten in it, get rid of that. Step two, we’re going to the store. We’re looking for protein, lots of grass-fed beef, chicken, pork, lamb, kangaroo, alligator. If it had a face, you can eat it.
Robb Wolf: And a soul. Kill it and bring its essence into your veins.
James Swanwick: Exactly. We’re talking like the caveman. The caveman diet. They used to go out there and kill the animals and eat it. That’s what we want to do.
Robb Wolf: Right.
James Swanwick: Eggs, they actually lower cholesterol and the egg yolk is good for you. You don’t have to like, I only eat the egg whites, you can attack the egg yolk as well. Step three, lots of fruits and vegetables. In particular, foods like kale, broccoli spinach, carrots and artichokes, great for you. Maybe limit the tropical fruits like banana, mango, papaya. If you are going to eat those fruits maybe do it a post work out.
Robb Wolf: Absolutely.
James Swanwick: Step four, we’re talking about fats. There are good fats and there are bad fats. Be sensible, you know what the bad fats are. The good fats, we’re talking about coconut oil, butter, and fish oil. Step five, herbs and spices. Robb likes to cook with ginger, garlic, curry, black pepper, salt, basil, thyme. Avoid those herb mixes that you might find at the supermarket that maybe contain a lot of sugar and sodium in it. When it comes to drinks. There’s not much choice there. If we want to be healthy and we want to lose weight we want to live healthy lives, it is what it is. Lots of water. If you’re going to drink coffee make it black, try and avoid any coffees with a lot of full cream milk in it. Tea is okay and some coconut water post workout. Avoid fruit juices and sodas. Orange juice is bad. Oranges are good but orange juice is bad. One last thing, you mentioned before some foods that do have some carbohydrates, maybe for post workout like yams and sweet potatoes. Can you just go over those once finally before I get some recipes from you, Robb?
Robb Wolf: Sure. Yams, sweet potatoes, even white potatoes for post workout is a great option. Rutabaga, turnips, taro root, yucca, depending on where you live you’ll have greater or less access to these sorts of things. Plantains. Then like you mentioned, some of the tropical fruits, bananas, papayas, mangos are great for post work out. There’s more carbohydrate dense fruits and vegetables are great for post work out, particularly if you’re lean and insulin sensitive.
James Swanwick: Okay. Before we get into those recipes, if we eat like this, Robb — if we take your advice and we do the lean proteins and the vegetables and we cut out all the sugars and all that kind of stuff, who’s going to see the most benefit from this? You were talking about maybe diabetics or people with insulin issues. Who’s going to see the best results? Can you give us a couple of case studies of some people that you know in your own life who actually have turned their situation around by switching to paleo?
Robb Wolf: Yeah. It’s interesting. The people who are the most interested in paleo come from these two different brackets of society. On the one hand, we have elite level athletes. We’ve had Frank Mir, Forrest Griffin, couple of other very big UFC names eating paleo, reporting significant improvements in body composition and power output and recovery and all that. The other side of the population that we see really engaging paleo are people who are very sick, type two diabetics, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus. The folks that we’re seeing benefit the most are people who are very performance oriented. Their finger is on the pulse of how they perform, how they recover. They’re very intoned with their bodies. We see some very huge benefit there.
We also see some great benefit on the farthest, other side of the spectrum, people who are very sick, life-threatening type conditions. Obviously everybody in the middle is going to benefit from that too but I just find it intriguing that these two far ends of the spectrum seem to benefit so much. We’ve had hundreds of testimonials of people reversing various forms of autoimmune disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis. We have a randomized control trial in queue looking at a paleo diet for autoimmune disease. It’s very, very exciting. It seems to be very beneficial. Again, these are diseases that are typically life threatening or at the very minimum, very, very heavily life impacting.
James Swanwick: Okay. Let’s talk them through some recipes here. Let’s imagine that our listeners and viewers, they’ve gotten rid of all the stuff, they’ve got the food and now they don’t know what to do with it.
Robb Wolf: Right.
James Swanwick: Maybe they’re not used to cooking with these herbs and spices and everything. What would you recommend that our listeners and viewers have for breakfast, have for lunch, what should they snack on, what should they have for dinner?
Robb Wolf: Breakfast is a tough one for folks. They get stuck in scrambled eggs, fried eggs, whatever eggs. Breakfast it can be a little challenging. I have a couple of favorites that are alternatives. One of them is called a chicken apple hash. What you do with that, you take a chicken breast, chicken thigh, whatever type of chicken you want, mince it up. You could even use a ground chicken or ground turkey would be great to use with this also. Take an apple or two and grate them. Put them through a food processor or use a hand grater. Cook the chicken. Throw the apple in with that. Start cooking the apple. Then coat that with a good amount of cinnamon. Let that cook. Maybe even put a lid on it so it gets a little bit of steam with it, gets a little bit of juice. It’s delicious. It’s kind of sweet, very, very flavorful. That’s one of my go-tos.
Then, I actually love breakfast curries. Where you could use any type of a meat, pork, fish, beef, chicken, anything you want. Go for more like a yellow or green curry. Then maybe add a little bit of allspice or garam masala which are both sweet spices. You get a little bit of that sweetness. Again, for a breakfast curry, say you add a little bit of apple, you might add a little bit of yam or sweet potato. Cook that down really well so that you get the sweetness from the yam or the sweet potato contributing to the rest of that meal. One final thing for breakfast, people usually love hot cereal. They’re like, I miss my hot cereal like crazy. You can take either almonds or pecans, throw those in a blender. Add either an equal amount of water or water and coconut milk. Blend that. Add some cinnamon. Cook it just the way you would oatmeal on the stove. It’s amazing. I used to love oatmeal. We’d kill for it. This stuff I feel is as good or better than any type of oatmeal.
James Swanwick: There’s another food we didn’t quite touch on earlier, which was nuts. Wasn’t it? Which, just quickly, what are the nuts that we should eat and what are the nuts we should avoid?
Robb Wolf: Most of the nuts are good to go. Sunflower seeds can be a little problematic because they’re very, very high in omega-6 fats. As long as you’re not just eating sunflower seeds by the handful, you should be good to go. Coconut, almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, macadamias. Eating a variety of nuts is great. There really aren’t any that I would say are out of bounds. People can overdo nuts though. We’ve had clients that we would tell them eat nuts as a snack and then they were not really making progress and we have them bring us a food log and it’s like afternoon snack, almonds. I’m like, how many did you have? The guy is like, well, you know a Costco container of almonds. It’s like 4000 calories that the guy ate between noon and five o’clock. You can overdo nuts, just keep that in mind. If you’re trying to lean out you may need to put them in a Ziploc bag, give yourself an ounce or two and then that’s it.
James Swanwick: Okay. We’ve got breakfast there. A chicken apple hash is Robb’s favorite meal or a breakfast curry. What about for a snack between breakfast and say lunchtime and then what are we eating at lunch?
Robb Wolf: The snack deal is intriguing to me because I find that if people just eat well, breakfast, lunch, dinner is good. The snacking is usually indicative and problematic — it’s part of the problem that we’re facing. People never really quit eating. We’re carnivores. We have eyes forward. We’re not grazers. It’s interesting — allowing our digestive system to actually go offline for periods of time — to not constantly have food in our system is great for body composition, very, very good for health. I really encourage people, eat a robust breakfast, eat a robust lunch, eat a good dinner. Try to avoid the snacks. If you’re going to have some coffee or tea between meals and that’s great. You should just eat well at the meals that you eat. I like to think of the lean, hungry predator idea and not the grazer all day. That’ my pitch on eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.
James Swanwick: If we’re not strong enough, if we don’t have the self-discipline as you do, Robb. Let’s face it because everyone will listen to this or view this and they’ll go great, I’m going to get started. This is going to be awesome and then three or four days in then they go, damn, that Robb Wolf said I couldn’t have a snack. They’re going to want a snack. If they are going to snack, what should they snack on?
Robb Wolf: It’s just more of the same. Jerky, nuts, fruit. Those things are really good grab and go items. Even the I’m the paleo diet and I don’t go really crazy on dairy, if you tolerate dairy, having some hard cheese or a good quality Greek yogurt, those things are fine as a snack when you’re in a pinch. Again, I really try to encourage people to kind of sack up and breakfast, lunch, dinner. Try not to graze throughout the day. It’s good for your composition. It’s good for your physiology.
James Swanwick: What lunch and dinner do you like to have traditionally? What’s your favorite lunch and dinner?
Robb Wolf: Gosh, I love — it’s kind of funny. I’m kind of a fan of really big salads and big soups. I will throw a salad together. Obviously I start with some sort of a protein source. I’ll do some arugula, some kale, I’ll dice all that stuff up. Sometimes I’ll make it like a hot salad. I’ll actually blanch it a little bit and then throw everything together. It’s kind of the kitchen sink. I’m dicing up garlic and ginger. I’m getting some fresh herbs and spices, loads of antioxidants from that stuff. I’ll put some olive oil or some coconut oil on it. Maybe even a good quality pre prepared salad dressing. If not a pre prepared salad dressing maybe some good balsamic vinegar. I just do the kitchen sink. Any type of vegetable matter that I’ve got in the fridge, I dice it up, throw it together, get it all mixed together. I’ll eat that.
I do a really similar thing with soup where I’ll do a what I call quick soup. Where I’ll cut up some meat. Brown it. Throw my seasoning in there which may be a curry or a ginger or a garlic. Throw some veggies in there also diced up small because it accelerates the cooking. Then I’ve made some stock from bones that are left over from chicken, or beef ribs or pork ribs, pour some of that in. Add some water to it. Season with salt and pepper. Literally it’s maybe a 10-minute process to have this amazing steaming bowl of soup. I’ll have the salads a lot in the summer. I’ll have the soups a lot in the winter. I’m getting a ton of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, lots of veggies. It’s just tasty. I can modify the taste from day to day. It may be more curry based. It may be more ginger based or maybe I do something like a red pepper and make a really spicy meal.
James Swanwick: Okay. For someone who’s already on the paleo diet, what are some of the mistakes that they make on a regular basis? How might they be able to tweak what they’re doing to maximize the benefits?
Robb Wolf: A couple of mistakes. One of the most common is that people who are athletic and lean, they look around for information about the paleo diet and most of what they find is oriented towards people who are overweight or diabetic or pre diabetic. The recommendation for these folks who are sick is a very low carb approach. The hard charging lean athlete may find — and we see this a lot in the military police and fire where they’re looking around for information on paleo.
What they find is all low carb and then they find that they’re just not performing well. They’re not recovering from workouts. These people need to eat more yams, sweet potatoes, bananas, plantains, those sorts of things post workout. They need some carbs. Certain people are finding information on low carb approaches to paleo and applying to an inappropriate population. A population that’s lean and insulin sensitive. Another thing that folks do is that if you are trying to lean out, they just end up eating too much food. We tell folks that fat is good and nuts are good and stuff like that. People end up using multiple tablespoons of coconut oil in each mean. They eat a half a can or a whole can of coconut milk with a meal. At some point calories do matter. They do add up even if we’re low carb. People who are trying to lean out they may be are eating too many total calories because they’re going a little bit too crazy on these good fats.
James Swanwick: Okay. Finally, Robb, what about the people who promote a vegetarian diet. Who will say that all meat is bad for you, that you’ve got that rotting steak in your gut. Then it’s just that human beings weren’t designed to eat this way. They point to all the health benefits of eating a plant based diet, with no meats. What do you say to them who criticize this lean meat diet that is paleo?
Robb Wolf: One thing, I try to build bridges with this stuff. I like to sit down and find the points where we agree on. Fruits, vegetables, roots, tubers like yams and sweet potatoes and stuff like that. I try to find where is the overlap. What do we agree on? Typically, within, say even the vegan scene, they like coconut. They like olive oil. They like nuts and seeds. We’re agreeing on a ton of stuff as a baseline. Then with the remaining protein piece, when we look at the anthropological data and even a lot of the epidemiological data we just don’t see meat consumption as a standalone item being the causative factor. We see a lot of confounders where meat consuming societies tend to eat more sugar. They tend to consume more alcohol. There’s a lot of mixed confounders in there. Instead of getting into a big pissing match over that stuff, I like to find some commonality. I like to draw some scientific references on this stuff.
I do this crazy thing which is that I recommend that people do both. Eat vegan for six months. See how you look, feel and perform. Track biomarkers of health and disease. Do you have low inflammatory status? Do you have high inflammatory status? Is your digestion good? Is it bad? Is body composition good or bad? Then eat paleo for six months and do the same thing. Instead of it getting into a religious based pissing match over this stuff, I encourage people to try all of these methods. Eat standard American diet for six months and see how you do. It’s going to be abysmal. Follow the American Dietetic Association recommendation and you’re going to look like every other fat American out there. Then eat vegan for six months. See how you do. Eat paleo approach for six months. See how you do. I’m very into the n=1 self-experimentation being the gold standard. Everybody’s physiology is different. I obviously buy into this protein centric, fat centric, paleo diet approach. I’ve always said that I’m macronutrient agnostic. Some people do well on high carb. Some people do well on low carb. My basic shtick is that generally eating nutrient dense, unprocessed foods, is good. It’s going to be better than the alternatives. From there it’s all tinkering and nuance.
Some people get very emotional about this topic. For me I just try to be pragmatic and help people find what they’re going to run best on. Even on the sustainability and orality side, we’ve had a huge explosion in sustainable permaculture type farming as an extension of those paleo diet approach because people are growing grass-fed meat and doing pastured chicken and growing fruits and vegetables locally. We’ve actually been remarkable effective at changing the way that food is produced. It’s not an unsympathetic, not — we are concerned about the environment and sustainability and whatnot which sounds crazy from the perspective of a lot of the vegetarian folks. I like to say let’s let the market and individuals figure this stuff out and not get overly pedantic about the religious side of it.
James Swanwick: Very important topic that we must talk about is alcohol obviously.
Robb Wolf: Yes.
James Swanwick: We touched on that earlier. Okay. Beer is bad, which is a shame for all of our lot of viewers and listeners who love a good beer. What alcohol should we avoid and what alcohol would you say is actually not too bad for us?
Robb Wolf: Beer is problematic because of the gluten deal. Again, what I would recommend folks do is go 100% gluten free for 30 days, reintroduce and see how you do. If you tolerate it and God love you. I’m jealous because you’ll be able to have a Guinness with dinner and I will be jealous every damn day of my life. From there, wine can be okay but we want to stick more with dryer wines. It can have a pretty high carbohydrate content. Particularly some of the white wines can be very sweet and high in sugar.
My favorite drinks are — my favorite, favorite one is the NorCal margarita which is a couple of shots of tequila, juice of one lime, splash of soda water. What you’ve got there is a nice [bolis 00:55:49] of alcohol. The acid and the juice, the lime juice actually blunts insulin response and then the bubbles in the soda water — the carbon dioxide bubbles are actually a nonpolar solvent. They extract the alcohol out of that other acquis matrix and get it into your body faster.
It’s a really quick way to get a decent drunk on. I’d like to see one or two of those consumed and then finish the night with some protein and fat. What we’ve done is we’ve reduced the amount of carbs that we would normally get from say like a sugary margarita or a sugary kind of flowery drink. We’ve avoided gluten. A trick of drinking too is to drink earlier. If you drink near bedtime it really dramatically impacts growth hormone production. It’s a good argument for get off work early and three or four PM. You hit the happy hour and get your drink on. Have some fun and then wind things down. You can still get good quality sleep and not have that alcohol impact it the way it normally does.
James Swanwick: That’s kind of like a low-fat, low carb margarita. Is it a couple shots of tequila with some lime juice and a little bit of soda water, is that right?
Robb Wolf: Yeah. Any type of clear booze is going to be good with this. Whiskey, vodka. Anything will work with that. I just kind of like tequila.
James Swanwick: Okay. Just two more things, Robb. I know that trying to be a paleo eater myself, I find it very difficult when I’m out and about, I’m not at home, trying to find lean meats and vegetables to eat just in the street. For example, I live in New York much of the year, if you walk 10 blocks there, the food that you — the advertising you get bombarded with is pizza and sandwiches which of course has got bread and all that kind of stuff and pastas, and rices and Chinese and all that kind of stuff. It’s very difficult to find a place that is only selling you lean meats and vegetables. For the person who’s out and about, doesn’t have time to cook and maybe he’s out on the street, how and where can they eat on the go while still sticking to this strict paleo diet?
Robb Wolf: You can cobble together almost any food and make this work. One of the most problematic ones would be like a roadside pizza stand where the only thing that they have is pizza by the slice kind of gig. If you go into an Indian restaurant, you get curries, you could get kabobs, you forgo the rice. You forgo the lentils and you’re good to go. Same deal with a Greek restaurant. Virtually any restaurant, even say like you had a Subway sandwich shop or something like that. You go in, you order one or two sandwiches worth of meat and veggies, have them leave the bun off and just throw that thing into a container and you’re good to go. It takes a little bit of tinkering but any place that’s going to have some meat and some veggies you should be able to cobble things together and make it work.
I’ve been on the road, supporting the book and the seminars that I do close to 30 weeks a year, over the last three to four years. I’m super gluten intolerant too. It’s not even like a well, I’ll cheat or I’ll splurge this time. It’s a no go for me. Even if I hit a Mexican food place I could get four tacos worth of meat, have them throw a bunch of extra veggies and some guacamole and salsa and I’m good to go. A lot of times, folks just need to be a little bit creative about going into any one of those normal fast food places or moderately fast food places and they can find something to work. Even a Chinese food place, it’s a grilled chicken with broccoli, you’re good to go. You just pass on the rice. Maybe you buy an apple from a different stand and you’re good to go.
James Swanwick: What encouragement would you give to our listeners and viewers? They’re out with friends and they’re ordering from the menu but then they have to say I’ll take the chicken curry but without the rice or the bread comes on the table. and they’re like, no I don’t want any bread or I’ll have the sandwich but leave the bun. Their friend is like what are you doing, you’re such a picky eater, you’re such a pain in the butt. You know what I mean? I know I get that quite a lot and I get weird looks from people in restaurants when I ask for food with variations, when I’m telling them to hold the bread or hold the rice or hold the pasta. A lot of times they’re like what would you like to drink and I’m like, [inaudible 01:00:24] only water and they’ll look at me going, only water? It doesn’t make any sense. What encouragement have you got to our paleo lovers or those that who are about to start paleo on all of the public judgement they’re going to get.
Robb Wolf: Gosh, it’s a good one. One thing I try to really fly under the radar. I try not to [inaudible 01:00:48]. I try not to be a pain. I try not to be a pest. I definitely don’t pass judgement on the way that other people eat. That’s one piece of it. It can be tough particularly for people who’ve had health problems and then they start eating paleo because they feel amazing. It maybe literally saved their life and then that person despite their good intention, they can piss off everybody around them and kind of pee in the pool for everybody else.
One thing is just kind of be mellow about things. For me, even when I may be in some sort of a business eating scenario where people maybe aren’t aware of the paleo background that I have. I’ll just say that I’m allergic to wheat and that’s it which is partially true. I have gluten reactivity. Usually, people don’t look too askance at some ribs and veggies or if I’m like a burger, no bun. Most people are savvy to the low carb thing. I’m just like, I’m trying not to be a fat ass. I’ll just say that. I don’t make too big of a deal about it. As far as the drinks. It’s coffee, tea, water, maybe some Pellegrino or something like that with some lime juice. It seems like you’re jazzing it up a little bit.
It’s a little bit tough and I have to say I’m lucky because at this point I’m pretty insulated. Anywhere I go, I’m typically hanging out with a bunch of lunatic fringe cultists like myself. It’s relatively easy. I don’t have a work environment where my coworkers are trying to sabotage me. Luckily, my wife’s family is the main part of the family I hang out with. They’ll eat more or less this way. Family gatherings are not a big deal. There’s not a lot of drama with it. It’s funny, early when I first started dating her, her sister hated me for a variety of reasons. We’re really close now. She actually would try to put wheat in different meals she prepped to try to get me sick. Now she denies it but we know it’s true. It’s funny. It can run the gamut. It can annoy people or they can actively try to hamstring your progress. It’s pretty funny.
James Swanwick: Just, finally, Robb, I like to use the phrase, don’t believe the hype. For example, I’ve read that US food pyramid which is telling you to eat grains and breads and all that kinds of stuff but everything that I’ve read shows me that, that is inaccurate or it shouldn’t be believed. Are you of that same mentality? What is your view of what the US government tells us that we should be eating via that food pyramid?
Robb Wolf: Yeah. I would extend that even into what I’m saying. I — lots of people — you could get somebody who has a good medical background and pull them on the show right after me and they would say exactly the opposite. They could articulate it well and build a really strong sounding argument. That’s where, for me, even though obviously I’m bought into this, I’ve got a bias, I’ve got a book I’m selling, I’m attached to this thing. I really try to maintain a little bit of distance and hopefully some credibility by simply encouraging people to try. My greasy used car salesman pitch is try this for 30 days, see how you look, feel, and perform, check bloodwork before, check bloodwork afterwards, if it doesn’t work for you, by god do something else. Don’t do a failed endeavor. I’m kind of waiting for that to happen. I just don’t see that. If people eat whole unprocessed foods more in this kind of evolutionary biology consistent way, they seem to do really, really well.
Even then, I bought the high carb, vegetarian deal hook line and sinker and for me it didn’t work. There may be people that works phenomenally for and that’s great. They should do what works best for them. In the don’t believe the hype, I would apply that to me as well. Don’t believe me just because I’m a biochemist or I’ve got a best-selling book or any of that. I could still be completely full of it, completely wrong and it may not work for folks. All of that said, just get in and try it. It’s like don’t be an armchair opinionated person on this without at least trying this thing on. I equate it to trying on a pair of jeans. Put it on, see how your ass looks in it. If you like it then cool, if not then try something else.
James Swanwick: Absolutely. [Inaudible 01:05:22]. Well, Robb, Robb Wolf, The New York Times best-selling author of The Paleo Solution, the original human diet. Thank you so much for your time. Where can our listeners and viewers find more information about you and about your book and about paleo in general?
Robb Wolf: Robbwolf.com. That’s where — it all is there. You don’t need to buy anything. I have a free 30-day meal plan whether you’re autoimmune, fat loss or an athlete. We have a shopping and food guide. We have the food matrix. We have a truckload of free material. The interesting thing is that most of the books that I sell are after people have used the free material off my website, get phenomenal results and then want to learn a little bit more. My gig is kind of a freemium approach. I give a ton away. People get results and then they end up buying books and giving it to friends and families and all that. It’s a very transparent easy thing to do. Go to robbwolf.com. We have the podcast weekly. We have three years of archived podcasts. You can check that out too.
James Swanwick: Nice. There you have it guys. Eat like a caveman. Boost your testosterone. Eliminate disease. Maybe for the first time in your life or maybe again, you’re going to see some abs and feel lean mean and terrific and certainly eliminate all of that disease. Robb Wolf, thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
Robb Wolf: Thanks man. Huge honor. Thank you.