PaleoFX was a terrific meeting. It’s not easy to stage such a large event. Kudos to Michelle and Keith Norris, Kevin Cottrell, and the 100 volunteers who worked so hard to make it a success. Jack Kruse in his keynote speech talked of “paying it forward,” and the volunteers and organizers certainly did that.

Jack is a better speaker than writer, and I enjoyed the talk. He recounted a story of a woman he met as a surgical resident. She had an inoperable cancer; Jack closed the incision in the operating room, and she lived for another six months. She willed her wine collection to Jack, and each day before she died she took a single bottle from each case to the beach and wrote a letter to Jack explaining its provenance and what it meant to her. The package of letters came along with the wine after her death, and in a note she mentioned the story of the Old Man and the Starfish, and told Jack, “You are my starfish.” She advised him to withdraw from the rat race and enjoy life, as she had in her final six months. Jack didn’t pay much heed to that advice until 2006. Then, after reflection and perhaps some cold thermogenesis, he realized that he ought to “pay it forward” by working “transformational change.” At this point he pulled out what he said was a stick of dynamite and a lighter:

He said that the dynamite could work transformational change on the University of Texas, and it was our obligation to go out in the world and work transformational change by converting others to Paleo.

Luckily the fire marshal was not present, or PaleoFX might have come to a premature end.

The next day began with a talk by CJ Hunt, producer of the documentary “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet.” CJ has a great personal story: he had a heart attack at age 24, but now in his 50s looks like a young and athletic man. Here is the trailer:

CJ can’t market the movie widely until after film festivals, so if you’re interested, the place to buy is through his web site.

Robb Wolf was next, and talked about how he made Norcal into such a successful gym. Robb is an outstanding businessman and his advice for gym operators was excellent.

Cooking demos were next. Check out Nom Nom Paleo for some great pictures of food and people.

Next was a panel I served on, “Ancestral Wellness Through the Decades.” I was impressed with Skyler Tanner, who came well prepared. Melissa Hartwig, Emily Talley, Dr Shilpi Mehta, and Jack Kruse all had good things to say and we covered a lot of ground.

More panels and talks by Mark Sisson and Ron Rosedale followed. The “Whole Foods vs Supplements” panel with Chris Kresser, Amy Kubal, Diana Rodgers, Liz Wolf, Diane Sanfilippo, Dr Dan Kalish, and Joe Johnson was excellent.

After the day was over we had an author book signing and then the audio-visual team recorded interviews with presenters.

The audio-visual team was really, really good: I understand it was the team that produces Anthony Johnson’s The 21 Convention. One of the A/V guys stayed up all night Thursday night putting together a video from the first day’s action, and it was played first thing Friday and was really professionally done. Quite impressive. A DVD of the conference will go on sale in about 60 days, and I’m sure it will be outstanding.

We finally got back to our hotel at 11 pm, our only food having been some chipotle chicken for lunch. Chris Kresser, Dan Pardi, and I went to a Pappadeaux restaurant for some baked potatoes.

Friday, after the video, began with an open Q&A panel: “Ask the Paleo Experts.” The biggest fireworks came with a “safe starches” question, directly specifically to Jack Kruse and myself. Jack has been arguing that one shouldn’t eat any carbs in the winter – here is Jack on the subject of eating a banana in winter:

Only humans who fail to listen to evolutions rule book of engagement die. You can eat a banana in the winter and feel fine but Mother Nature says it’s impossible………therefore we ought not to do it. I will follow her lead over a diet book guru or the opinions of a bunch of people who let their thoughts subjugate their genes. Feelings and thoughts do not trump neural biochemistry …

Jack turned to me and said something like “I’d like Paul to explain why, if Neuropeptide Y is downregulated in cold weather, it can be safe to eat starches.” My answer was that we are warm-blooded mammals and maintain a constant body temperature so that our basic biochemistry, including the ability to digest and utilize glucose, works no matter what the outside temperature. Ron Rosedale, Nora Gedgaudas, and Emily Deans added to the discussion. Here’s a photo of half the panel, from Bryan Lambeth:

From the left are Emily Deans, David Pendergrass, Keith Norris, Lane Sebring, and myself. Offcamera were Jack Kruse, Ron Rosedale, Nora Gedgaudas, Dean Dwyer, and Dallas Hartwig.

After the panel came my talk. It was my “fitness” talk and covered “Some Overlooked Factors in Fitness.” One of the topics I covered was body composition. After the talk I had a long chat with Jimmy Moore about how eating some carbs can improve body composition and facilitate weight loss. He said it was starting to make sense to him. Today he tweeted:

Wouldn’t it be funny if I actually started eating rice again? Stay tuned. @pauljaminet #safestarches

Who knows, maybe we’ll revive the PHD weight loss experiment Jimmy and I talked about last fall. Stay tuned!

While all these talks and panels were going on upstairs, there was a continuous string of Strength and Movement sessions on the first floor. I didn’t have enough time for those, but I did make time for a 15-minute mashing session from Kate Catlow of the Mindful Body Center. Great!

I spent most of Friday chatting to people. The great value of conferences like this is the opportunity to meet others in the Paleo community and to look for ways we can cooperate to achieve good things. I even got a head start on this: Nora Gedgaudas sat next to me in our flight into Austin. In her review of the conference, Emily Deans mentioned a few things under discussion:

I drove with Paul Jaminet in the car and we talked about his upcoming plans, Shou-Ching’s research, and his work with Aaron Blaisdell to help with publishing an Ancestral Health academic journal, all very exciting stuff.

Nothing is settled yet but there will probably be a few initiatives to report in coming months.

I think PaleoFX planted a few seeds that may grow into bigger things. Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers who made it all possible! I hope that a good time was had by all.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Can’t agree more with this… “The great value of conferences like this is the opportunity to meet others in the Paleo community and to look for ways we can cooperate to achieve good things.” It was great meeting you at PFX, looking forward to what’s in store!

  2. I think these paleo conferences are fantastic, the one arranged by sean croxton was an eye opener, and its amazing to see how you have changed some of your ideas as a response to new information, personally I really enjoy how you cover the the entire goings on of the paleo community and collate the data, it shows transparency and is the proper scientific approach, rather than having a forgone conclusion and conveniently ommiting that which doesnt ‘fit’.

    Anyway having said that, When is the next edition being published which takes account of your changes in position? and the cook book?

  3. I sure hope you talked Jimmy into eating carbs again. I’m really starting to worry about him. If he’s going to be a major voice in this paleo thing, he needs to actually be healthy, not just talk about it.

  4. Thanks for the report.
    Is it just me or does Jack look fatter (especially face) as compared to the 2 pix on his side?
    As much as I believe cold therapy can really be of help to burn calories, strenghten immunity etc. I think he took it too far (running around allday with ice packs and a/c on lowest level in house and car) and that can actually downregulate metabolism and encourage subcutaneous fat storage. This would explain the dimnished appetite as well.
    And for the banana in winter: Interestingly there is some research about cold adaption in some african tribesmen and australian aborigines because albeit they have high day temps those might fall in some instances as low as 0 C during the night in deserts and high plains and those folks use very little or no clothes/textiles for protection. They eat starches (mainly roots) too.
    So, as we, homo sapiens, most properly evolved in such areas (east afrcian high plains to levantine?) I think one could argue for a metabolic flexibility towards cold/hot adaptation to be the optimum for us.

  5. “only humans who fail to listen to evolutions rule book of engagements die” I’ve got news for you Jack. All humans die. That man has a serious death phobia.
    Great write up Paul, thank you!

  6. This is very interesting. I have been doing cold baths in the way that Jack Kruse suggests for a couple of weeks – I plan to do a couple of months to see what happens. I’m interested in what happens with weight, food cravings, ability to tolerate sea swimming, sleep, immunity and mood. I have noticed to my surprise that since starting the baths my appetite is generally less and in particular I have lost interest in carbs. My mood has been very very good and my sleep very deep in the last week or so. I will report back what I discover in a couple of months when I see how it goes over a longer stretch of time.

  7. re: eating a banana in winter

    It seems to me that most winter time is spent inside warm buildings and not outside, so I’m not sure I’m understanding Jack’s reasoning that the body is regulating to cold during winter.


  8. Hi Hassen,

    Publishing schedule is one of the things we’ll update in coming months.

    Hi Franco,

    Interesting about cold adaptation in the tropics.

    Hi Agatha,

    Just remember, moderation in all things.

    Hi Mark,

    I don’t understand it either.

    Best, Paul

  9. @Mark,

    there’s indeed research (I think norwegian) showing that even average western people adapt to cold during the winter somewhat (showed by later onset of shivering during winter season when tested in a cooling chamber) but I don’t think it’s very deep and like I wrote before, somebody half naked in the desert or high plains of africa during the night will be better adapted to cold and still enjoy some starchy/carby foods without getting fat.

  10. Hi Paul,

    Thought you might be interested in this link in case you haven’t seen it – a scientist says he has evidence that his diabetes was caused by a cold virus.

  11. what a lovely story Drl Kruse told!

    although i don’t get his point re. banana in winter. cause we mostly have indoor heat.

    i have a strong aversion to coldness. the indoor swimming lap pool @ Y (80F = 27C) is too cold for me (for the 1st 5 min until i warm up)

    so i’d probably get sick before ripping any benefits doing his “cold therapy”


  12. Are you going to blog about your exercise speech, Paul?

  13. Hi Todd,

    Thanks for linking to that. I did see it. It’s a great story! I think that research approach is really promising and could help nail down infectious causes of disease.

    Hi tam,

    All the material will be blogged, but in pieces. Also, some of it will have a different focus, ie the body composition stuff will be in my obesity/weight loss series rather than in a fitness/bodybuilding post.

  14. Hi Paul,

    Can you please answer two quick questions:

    1. Is it necessary to supplement ammino acids like leucine etc. when doing a long term ketogenic diet, or is it simply enough with lots of coconut oil?

    2. Do you recommend a ketogenic diet for people with out of range levels of calcitriol (1,25D: 137 pmol/L and 25(OH)D): 97 nmol/L)

  15. Hi Eirik,

    1. Coconut oil is enough.

    2. First, your 25OHD level is optimal (39 mg/dl in American units) and your calcitriol / 1,25D level (52 ng/L or pg/ml in American units) is higher than usual but at a low-mortality value — see from I’m not sure that calcitriol levels, in and of themselves, demand treatment.

    I wouldn’t recommend a ketogenic diet without knowing what problem you were treating. Some causes of high calcitriol, eg granulomas around eukaryotic pathogens, might be made worse by a ketogenic diet. I think without more information I can’t say.

  16. Hi Paul,
    As I was sitting on my Lanai here in Kailua Kona, HI this morning (in my tank top and shorts no less, it is winter after all) I almost spit my coffee when I read Jack’s line:

    “…You can eat a banana in the winter and feel fine but Mother Nature says it’s impossible”

    I guess the bananas/papayas/etc that are currently falling off the trees here are not supposed to be consumed because it’s still winter and our bodies won’t know what to do with them! I understand what he’s trying to say but he should have phrased it differently… i.e., eat fruit only in the summer months as Mother Nature intended (exception being tropical climates where fruits are abundant year round).

    I do remember growing up in CA that most fruits were only available in the summer as they were not imported from tropical climates as they are now. I also remember how great a fresh peach tasted. Most fruit in markets today are so bland and lacking in any flavor whatsoever that I don’t even bother.

    As an aside, thanks for all you do. I’ve been low carbing for over 12-years and after reading your book have increased my intake of rice and potatoes with great success.

  17. Hello.

    I was wondering if your wife was from taiwan. i spent 7 years there and got very thin eating traditional chinese food and rice.

  18. Hi Melody,

    Yes, we evolved in the tropics so fruit did not have a definite seasonality.

    I’m glad you’re doing well!

    Hi v,

    Shou-Ching grew up in Korea with Chinese nationality and went to college in Taiwan (NTU).

  19. Thank you for answering Paul. The problems I’ve been having include low body temperature, mostly cold hands and feet, fatigue, sometimes brain symptoms like problems concentrating, irritable, depressed/ feeling down etc. which I know could be symptoms of a brain infection. I also experience flu like symptoms from time to time: muscle aches and sore throat etc. (the brain and flu symptoms come and go and don’t seem to last as long as the temperature issues and fatigue) I also had symptoms of a fungal infection, like bloating and toe nail fungus but they’ve seem to have disappeared finally, after I’ve included safe starches in my diet after one year on VLC. I’ve done exstensive testing, including a stool test sent to the metametrix lab and blood tests, which have not detected any pathogens or antibodies to any patogens. It only showed that I’ve at some point gone through a toxoplasma gondii infection.

    Blood tests have shown high TSH level at 3 but very high reverse t3: 528 pg/ml, t4 in the high normal range, TPO only 11 and antithyroglobulin AB <20 4 months after qoing gluten free. This to me suggests mabe euthyroid sick syndrome (as I was VLC when tests were done), but mabe also calictriol binding to thryoid hormone receptors (and possibly messing up other hormonal mechanism), since 2 months on 400-600 carb calories hasn't eliminated the body temperature issue yet, and the symptoms come and go all the time, and may shift several times a day even.

    I must also add that when I supplement vitamin D the symptoms feel worse quickly afterwards and I'm worried that I'm doing more harm by taking it. I have symptoms of vitamin D toxicity like excessive urination or sometimes too much at a time and it tends to be dark and cloudy.

    I hope I've provided you with enough info to make it easier for you to recommend either ketogenic or just sticking to normal PHD recommandations. P.S I've read your book and love it!

  20. Hi Eirik,

    If you felt better going from VLC to 400-600 carb calories, I would try more carbs before considering a ketogenic diet.

    You might try some of the detox aids, like bentonite clay or activated charcoal, to see if lingering fungal toxins might be an issue.

    I’d also consider experimenting with treatment for toxoplasmosis, just in case you still have it in your brain or elsewhere.

    I don’t know, it’s hard to pin down what’s going on. Experimentation is in order, but I wouldn’t put a ketogenic diet at the top of the list of things to try.

    Best, Paul

  21. Paul,

    When the airplane landed, had you and Nora come to an agreement on safe starches yet? 🙂

  22. A good overview of human cold adaptation:

    Pay attention to fig.5 (p.12/64).

  23. Hi Paul,

    Your talk on overlooked factors concerning fitness, including on body composition, sounds interesting. Sorry if I have overlooked anything, but may I ask if your powerpoint /ideas are available somewhere on the web?

  24. paul,

    have your views been informed by discussions with your wife where she may have pointed out from here first hand experience the amount of rice, yam, consumption in taiwan leading to a lean population?

  25. Thank you Paul. Yes I know my symptoms are confusing, but don’t you think calcitriol could be responsible. If taking vitamin D makes it worse, could it be harmful to continue?

  26. Eirik, check out the work of Dr. Broda Barnes. He has written about a lot on the symptoms that you describe.

  27. Paul,

    It was a pleasure to meet you and in spite of my preparedness none of the questions posited during the discussion directly related to the notes I had on hand! Oh well, maybe next time.


  28. Hi Tim,

    I’m afraid we didn’t talk about safe starches. But we were agreeable on everything we did talk about!

    Hi Franco,

    Great find! Lots of good information there. I wish Jack would provide something like that when discussing his ice bath recommendations.

    Hi ET,

    I haven’t put the slides up on the Internet due to copyright issues. It has some images from scientific papers that I think I can use under “fair use” for a talk, but I don’t want to abuse that privilege. I will cover everything in blog posts sooner or later.

    Hi v,

    Yes, Shou-Ching is well aware of food patterns in Asia, and regrets ever straying from traditional Asian diets to the USDA food pyramid and soy-based vegetarian-influenced diets.

    Hi Eirik,

    Yes, it’s possible. If vitamin D makes you feel worse, I would certainly consider stopping or reducing it. How much are you taking? Also, read back to an early post in our vitamin D category on vitamin D dysregulation in chronic diseases. Often people get high calcitriol and low 25OHD. In such cases I am reluctant to raise 25OHD to normal levels. I think as a rule it’s good to limit supplements to 4,000 IU/day or less.

    Thanks, kevin.

  29. Hi Skyler,

    All the issues seemed to be in your wheelhouse. And you had good shoes!

  30. Paul, I’m only getting around 2000 IU’s a day from fermented cod liver oil, but I’ve read that it migh be more potent since its fermented. Before starting the cod liver oil, my 25OHD was very low at only 21,7 ng/mL and 1,25D at 46,4 pg/mL which is quite high I believe. I’ve read the posts on vitamin D dysregulation, but don’t understand if my infection is blocking the VDR receptors, how could my 25OHD increase to 39 mg/dl that easily?

    Kevin: Thank you for the tip.

  31. Eirik,

    Not that this will cure you, but have you ever done a nightshade elimination trial? Some nightshades contain calcitriol.

    “Brain symptoms” of unknown origin would make one think of chronic exposures that are hidden in the diet or environment, such as potentially nightshades, mold, etc.

  32. Thanks, Kamal, great advice.

    Eirik, my take is that your calcitriol level is only slightly high (this was the post I mentioned earlier,, it has a scatter plot of calcitriol levels) and it’s likely within the range of normal variation in healthy people, and close to the level of lowest mortality in the elderly. Your D3 intake levels and serum 25OHD are very good, and you are responsive to supplementation. There’s nothing that clearly fingers vitamin D as a problem. So I would tend to keep doing what you’re doing and look elsewhere for the cause of your problems.

    Kamal’s idea of circulating toxins, possibly food or environment derived, is probably one to explore.

  33. Thank you Paul and Kamal. I don’t really eat any nighshades, so I don’t think that’s the problem, and my diet is very good, even no dairy, low in toxins, so I can’t see that beeing a problem. Sorry, but I can’t understand why I react the way I do to D supplementation when my 1,25D and 25OHD levels are whithin normal range. One thing I haven’t tested is metal toxicity, but I have never had any mercury fillings or exposure other than vaccines as a child like almost everyone else. But as you said Paul, fungal toxins might be a possibility and I know metals like mercury etc. seems to promote fungus. Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions.

  34. Eirik, lots of people react badly to fermented cod liver oil. Fermentation produces all kinds of toxic oxidation products. Why don’t you try a regular vitamin D3 capsule and see if it reproduces the effects. It might be the fermented cod liver oil.

  35. Paul, I enjoyed our brief discussion on Thursday afternoon, and really enjoyed your talk on Friday. Your grace when discussing differences of opinion is admirable, and you were an outstanding panelist! I hope you enjoyed your visit to Austin – keep up the great work!

  36. Paul — off-topic I’m afraid but there’s another interesting post over at Dave Asprey’s bulletproof exec (he was also at the summit, I think) on supplementation:

    You seem a bit keener on vitamin and mineral supplements than others in the “paleosphere” (or whatever we are calling it now) so thought it would be of interest.

  37. @erik

    instead of looking at the culprit being the vitamin d in the cod liver oil, look at what else is in there. i tried regular cod-liver oil and had heavy mentrual periods because of the omega 3s, which also happens to me on regular fish oil. maybe the omega 3 or the vitamin a in the cod liver oil is what is affecting you.

  38. Paul and v, thanks. I will try vitamin D in a pill form and report back on my response.

  39. Thanks for the link back Paul! Once again, great meeting you, was a pleasant surprise. Talk soon.

    — Anthony

  40. It appears Jack Kruse has gained a lot of padding around the waist…I have read that cold temperatures raises cortisol levels.Could that be a factor in his expanding mid section?

  41. I don’t understand why Jack Kruse says eating any carbs will shorten your telemeters prematurely. I was reading his blog articles on cold thermogensis and, while I like the idea gaining better tolerance to cold, I don’t see why it has to be done on a ketogenic diet. I seemed to gather he hadn’t actually tested the change in telomere length for those eating moderate starches while undergoing his cold thermogensis regime. He only tested those on a low carb paleo/crossfit regime and said they had undergone premature cellular aging when they hadn’t activated cold-adapted metabolic pathway. I’m agreeing more with Franco about metabolic flexibility being best, but is it perhaps somehow worse (for your telomere length) to activate the cold-metabolic pathway and still eat safe starches then to not activate it at all?

  42. Hi Lara,

    There’s no sense to it, and no harm to your telomeres from eating safe starches.

  43. Paul, it was great seeing you again at Paleo FX and great to meet so many people I had run across on the internet. Your discussion of the intracellular matrix was new to me and very interesting. I also noticed Dr Ron Rosedale disputed the theory about telomere length and aging which I also found interesting. My second day was spoiled a bit by the HUS relapse I had from a couple of weeks earlier. Thankfully I have recovered from that now, but it really slowed me down that Friday and I ending up leaving earlier than I would have liked. I had thought about staying home Friday, but I’m glad I toughed it out for most of the day.

    Thanks for putting my photo to good use 🙂

  44. Bryan, it was great to see you. Hope you clear the HUS soon.

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