Monthly Archives: May 2013

Fit Fat Fast Podcast, Seoul Event, and Reader Stories

I have a number of blog posts in progress but before finishing those I want to put up a few items.

First, I recorded a new podcast with Jon Smith of The Fit Fat Fast Podcast, which is devoted to endurance athletes but covers a wide range of topics. Check it out!

Second, Shou-Ching and I will be speaking in Seoul, Korea, on Saturday June 29 at CrossFit Sentinel. We’re excited to be visiting Korea again, it’s been quite some time, and we’re very happy to begin spreading our diet into Asia.

Third, I want to thank everyone who leaves Amazon reviews and reader results stories. Let me share a few that we especially enjoyed.

At Amazon, Matt Marcheski wrote:

If this is the bible Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet are gods…. I have absolutely no problem stating that this is the best book written on nutrition that I’ve come across.

I think Paul Jaminet intended this book to be simply stated, non-exaggerated book with TONS of properly cited information. He hit the nail on the head. However, my new found energy does not allow me to see this book in that light. It reads like an epic, feels like an enlightenment and tastes as delicious as our taste buds can handle. Our bodies are the result of millions of years of evolution. Is it possible that our sweet teeth, fatty preferences and insatiable hunger are screw ups? As Fall Out Boy and Elton John would say….. NO!

When I was reading this book I had already lost 60 pounds and doing GREAT, I simply read it for fun. I thought my diet was great, reading this book confirmed that statement, but I also found out that it could be MUCH better. I made small tweaks and followed their infamous supplement routine and WHOA. I lost an additional 20 pounds; BUT the diet definitely took ten years off my appearance. People used to think I was 25, now everyone says I look like I’m 16. THIS is no exaggeration, in fact I have been given a very difficult time buying alcohol because the picture on my ID looks nothing like me now. I HAVE NOT BOUGHT A DRINK WITHOUT GETTING CARDED YET. I got carded for redeeming a SCRATCH OFF ticket. I did not know that they were allowed to do that at the time. I’ve also had a MUCH better sense of well-being and A LOT more energy. You haven’t lived until you lived Perfectly.

I may be leading the review in the wrong direction though. DO NOT underestimate the amount of information in this book. What upset me about other books on diet & nutrition is that they consist of 95% gobbley-gook and 5% decent information. The Perfect Health diet is mostly 97% great information. If you are looking for motivation, go watch Dr. Phil, but quite frankly, no motivation is needed after reading this book. Your new hunger levels and taste buds provide all the motivation you need.

I have more respect for the Jaminets than any other people on Earth at this moment. They do not sell out, they provide ALL the information you need and if they do not have the answers to your questions they will find out. Take a look at their website. The community is actually OUTSTANDING as well, they are very well informed.

If you take into account all the chicks (or guys) your new appearance will be attracting, the years of perfect health you put on your life, your new sense of well-being and the money you will save on health care, this book could easily sell for $1,375,876.00 precisely.

Thanks, Matt! I’ll pass your pricing advice on to Scribner.

Francesca introduced us to a future astrophysicist, who has experienced many benefits but retains a puzzling itchy scalp:

The PHD has helped my whole family tremendously, but especially my sixteen year old granddaughter. She had frequent headaches and stomach aches since she was a toddler, at the age of seven a blood test showed that she was anaemic, had a TSH of 5.25mU/L, an FT3 level of 5.8mU/L and thyroid antibody levels consistent with auto-immune disease. She had no obvious signs of thyroid problems – she was always slim but had low self-esteem and struggled at school despite being an obviously intelligent child. At 14 the headaches became migraines and she was anxious and upset that she could never achieve the results needed to follow her dream of becoming an astro-physicist – she has had a passionate interest in astronomy from the age of about four.

We found the PHD almost two years ago and within a few days her headaches and stomach aches disappeared and her schoolwork improved tremendously. She said that before PHD she felt that her brain was in a fog and she couldn’t think properly. She is now achieving A’s in physics and chemistry and her dreams seem to be within reach….

She breaks the diet extremely rarely, not even for Christmas or birthdays, because even a bought smoothie caused a stomach ache and a headache. She loves Ris a la Mande and other recipes on your site.

Your diet has turned her life around and she is very grateful. Her only health problem is a terribly itchy scalp. She has had the problem for about two years and complains that it is now driving her insane. I developed the same problem at the same age and it drove me crazy for fifty years but since following PHD it has almost stopped itching. The itching followed exactly the same pattern for both of us – mainly in the crown area; perfectly healthy scalps; no dandruff; shiny healthy hair; we tried all possible hair products with no benefit yet washing with any hair product stops the itching for some hours….

My granddaughter has had almost miraculous improvements in her life from PHD so an itchy scalp doesn’t seem much of a problem but she is finding it very hard to cope with, especially when studying (which is most of her time) so we are hoping you can help.

Thank you for all your amazing work which has helped my family and so many others.

I suggested some nutritional steps, but I imagine it will take some experimentation and continued healing to figure this one out.

On the Reader Results page, Leo Delaplante left a great note (it was left while we were experimenting with Livefyre comments and I think this disturbed the formatting):

i want to thank  paul  and shou-ching for the for all their time spent researching ,compiling and publishing the perfecthealthdiet,,,you guys educated yourselves about nutrition with open minds and an unbiased view of all nutritional info available ,,,only then did you put all the pieces together and to write your book,,,your 5 year research to help yourselves with your health issues and then to unselfishly share it with us is truly and act of love and compassion to us all….i am sure that mainstream diet and health advisers are closet readers of your informative book,,,your down to earth  intentions to help others is truly reflected in the ad free website you have and the amount of time and money you must be spending  to answer questions and be guests on radio and conventions,,you are both the salt of the earth,,,,,,,,,,myself i picked up on your book last january and really felt i had found something different and complete to improve my eating habits and health,,,i raised four kids and did all the cooking myself rarely going out for fast foods,,i cooked in a 50′s 60′s style so meats vegies and potatoes were often used,,i wish i would of known more about nutrition but my 3 girls and boy all in their 20′s are all healthy and their weights are perfect….now that i know about seed oils,,grains,fructose ect. i have educated them all on your nutritional knowledge,,

since january 1st i have lost 25 pounds,,the first 10 came off within 2 weeks and now i am consistantly losing 1 lbs/week…i havent eaten wheat, sugar, grains (except for buckwheat and quinoa (buckwheat in my smoothies in the morning make me carb happy)) i understand why you reject any grains as a food but always hope that one day with more research  you will let us know that quinoa, buckwheat, chia and hemp seeds are ok as this is were i cheat in my diet ,,,,i supplement ,intermiten fast,,,sleep 8 hrs a night(always have) and generally follow your guidelines 95% of the time,,,,i used to have heart burn(from wheat),,,,,,gone…………..take naps,,,,,,,,no more,,,,,,,,,snore like crazy… moderatly,,,,my last bloodwork showed my cholesterol numbers almost perfect(doctor took me off the statins) ,,blood sugar levels slightly below normal,,my doctors was amazed,,,,,,,after four months my new eating habits are a natural part of my life,,i have also spread this diet to my friends and family,,,,,,both of you are a rare find in this day and age and i want to thank you for what you have done to the health of all your followers,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,leo delaplante

Bethany at MyFitnessPal left a great story:

I feel good. I’ve lost an unbelievable 10 pounds in 17 days (seriously, I keep getting back on the scale in disbelief), I’m sleeping like a baby, I have TONS of energy, I’m enjoying my food, and it’s only day 17.  No, I don’t expect the weight loss to keep up at that rate, but I do expect that there’s something to this, considering my “perfect” diet from the past left me grumpy, hungry, malnourished, and overweight & gaining. It seemed impossible to me that I was gaining on my past regimen – every part of traditional diet science said I was doing the right thing, and many of my doctors confirmed it. Then I read this line written by Jaminet (from memory, may be slightly different in print):

“Nutrient hunger can cause weight loss to plateau and reverse, even if the diet does not change.”

Wow. That was it – the breaking point for me. My body wanted fat, and starches, and protein, and wanted to stop dealing with toxins.  And now that it’s getting all the good fats my heart literally desires, I feel good. I feel happy.

And I have God to thank, and Paul Jaminet & his wife Shou-Ching, and everyone on MyFitnessPal that’s supportive and helpful – even if we do disagree on the details. 🙂

Bethany left an update this week.

There have also been many great stories over on the Perfect Health Diet Facebook group. I don’t want to cite people by name or quote too much because it’s a closed group, but I’ll just share this reminder that sometimes there is an adaptation period when you change diets:

I was relatively low-carb in 2012. On January 1, 2013, I went very low-carb and it immediately did not work. When I started PHD, I did puff up a bit–much to my distress. But I stuck with it because I felt so good. Two months in, I tweaked the starch down (maybe to 6 ounces a day) and started doing IF. I am now at the lowest weight of my adult life and feeling so strong. Many thanks to the Jaminets.

Thank you to all who leave personal stories and positive reviews!

Finally, an animal photo as we wish you a joyful weekend and, to our American readers, Memorial Day holiday:

Peter Lakatos: Tips for Better Movement

The Hungarian edition of Perfect Health Diet is on sale! Jaffa Kiadó is the publisher, it can be purchased here, and this is the cover:

Hungarian cover

Peter Lakatos gets most of the credit for making the Hungarian edition happen. In addition to being a PHD fan, Peter is a StrongFirst Girya Master Instructor with Pavel Tsatsouline, Expert 2 Krav Maga instructor with Eyal Yanilov, blue belt Brazilian jiu jitsu practicioner with Carlson Gracie Jr., and a creator of Primal Move. Peter was born and lives in Budapest, Hungary.

Here are Peter’s tips for better movement.

Move More, but for the Right Reasons

Most training systems tell you to move more to become slimmer. And when you stop being slim, they ask you to move more. This advice is misdirected. Movement should not be thought of as a tool for creating a caloric deficit. Rather, movement should be regarded as a means to better health. Movement can make you slimmer, but only as a side effect of making you healthier.

If you move only to lose weight, and rely on movement for weight loss, you are in trouble. As David Whitley would say: you can’t out-train a doughnut.

The goal of movement should be better health and a more capable body. Movement reshapes your brain and makes you mentally, emotionally, and physically ready for almost any challenge.

We designed Primal Move to help people achieve this positive reshaping of brain and body. Here is a video which introduces Primal Move:

We noticed early on while creating Primal Move that we can easily get our students to move more or more intensely: all we had to do was add games. Games and play are seriously underrated in physical education. Today, we often see kids suffering from play deprivation. Yes, you read that correctly; I am not talking about sleep deprivation, but play deprivation.

Stuart M. Brown, whom we consider to be the world’s number one expert on play, studied several serial killers and found a shocking common pattern in their lives – they all had been deprived of play. According to Dr Brown, play deprivation can cause many cognitive disorders, and lack of play implies a lack of social skills. That does not mean that those who don’t play will become serial killers. But maybe they won’t become Mother Theresa either!

Improve Your Movement Quality

Moving better is where all things start. Now, better is of course hard to measure, but simply said – when things are getting easier you just learned how to make a certain movement more efficient. Moving better means moving with better coordination, better control, less mental, emotional and sometimes physical tension. Moving better means we have full access to the human body, and give us a great foundation for the next step, becaming stronger.

We created a full division in Primal Move focused on moving better, called the Fundamentals. Our Fundamentals division is based on the Functional Movement System of Gray Cook and Lee Burton, and we truly recommend visiting their website, Want to be super clever on human movements? Read Gray’s book, The Movement.

In Primal Move Fundamentals, we start and finish with a short but very valuable evaluation called the Primal Flow Evaluation. Yes, we want to know how well you move before we try to make you stronger or more fit.

We really believe the movement hierarchy should be based on the quality of movement. Establishing quality of movement first prepares you to load the movements with weight, repetition or speed. But don’t think you have to move like a ballet dancer. Just move well enough, so that additional strength will not distort your structure.

Now better movement gives a great feeling. Moving better and more fluidly builds your confidence. Can you remember a time when movement was painful – when you moved to play or even simply to take a book off the shelf, and knew before you did it that, “This is going to hurt,” and so you flinched and slowed your movement down. Maybe even just thinking about the movement made you stressed.

Moving better not only means you move well, but also that you learn movements faster because your movement literacy – the term was coined by Istvan Balyi, the famous Hungarian-Canadian sport expert – is wide enough that you will excel and enjoy almost any movement or game you attempt to practice.

Think about this – who is the last kid to get picked for football? Always the one who does not move well, does not kick well, the one who has problems on many levels with tha game. If you don’t get picked, you don’t practice. If you don’t practice, you don’t get better. If you don’t get better, you stop moving. If you stop moving, you get slower. Giving up on movement and play can lead to poor health and a greater likelihood of obesity and other health problems. Yes, there is a risk of a downward spiral with lifelong consequences.

Gaining Strength

Increasing strength is always a high payoff strategy. Being stronger makes everything easier. Yes, I know, we are so clever and original.

To get stronger you have many choices. Are you a minimalist? Keep to bodyweight exercises, play with leverage, and read Pavel Tsatsouline’s book, The Naked Warrior. Bodyweight movements made difficult with leverage are how gymnasts develop extremely strong and attractive bodies.

If you prefer to pick up heavy objects – and many claim this is the meaning of life – we recommend that you still consider minimalist solutions. Kettlebells and sandbags, plus a pull up bar, are a perfect set of equipment for building strength. Want to learn more about these? Visit and

Thanks Peter! For those who would like videos, here is a group doing Primal Move Fundamentals:

One thing I like about Primal Move is that they have developed movement exercises for those who are not physically able to perform the Fundamentals. This practice is called Primal Move Regeneration:

And for runners, here is Primal Move Velocity:

Nutrition and Pregnancy, I: Nutritional Triage

Happy Mother’s Day!

2013 Mothers DayMother’s Day seems an auspicious time to begin a series on nutrition in pregnancy. It is an important topic, as I believe pregnant mothers are often alarmingly malnourished.

Triage Theory

“Triage theory,” put forward by Bruce Ames [1], is an obviously true but nevertheless important idea. It offers a helpful perspective for understanding the consequences of malnourishment during pregnancy

Triage theory holds that we’ll have evolved mechanisms for devoting nutrients to their most fitness-improving uses. When nutrients are scarce, as in times of famine, available nutrients will be devoted to the most urgent functions – fuctions that promote immediate survival. Less urgent functions – ones which affect end-of-life health, for instance – will be neglected.

Ames and his collaborator Joyce McCann state their theory with, to my mind, an unduly narrow focus: “The triage theory proposes that modest deficiency of any vitamin or mineral (V/M) could increase age-related diseases.” [2]

McCann and Ames tested triage theory in two empirical papers, one looking at selenium [2] and the other at vitamin K [3]. McCann & Ames used a clever method. They used knockout mice – mice in which specific proteins were deleted from the genome – to classify vitamin K-dependent and selenium-dependent proteins as “essential” (if the knockout mouse died) or “nonessential” (if the knockout mouse was merely sickly). They then showed experimentally that when mice were deprived of vitamin K or selenium, the nonessential proteins were depleted more deeply than the essential proteins. For example:

  • “On modest selenium (Se) deficiency, nonessential selenoprotein activities and concentrations are preferentially lost.” [2]
  • The essential vitamin K dependent proteins are found in the liver and the non-essential ones elsewhere, and there is “preferential distribution of dietary vitamin K1 to the liver … when vitamin K1 is limiting.” [3]

They also point out that mutations that impair the “non-essential” vitamin K dependent proteins lead to bone fragility, arterial calcification, and increased cancer rates [3] – all “age-related diseases.” So it’s plausible that triage of vitamin K to the liver during deficiency conditions would lead in old age to higher rates of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Generalizing Triage Theory

As formulated by Ames and McCann, triage theory is too narrow because:

  1. There are many nutrients that are not vitamins and minerals. Macronutrients, and a host of other biological compounds not classed as vitamins, must be obtained from food if health is to be optimal.
  2. There are many functional impairments which triage theory might predict would arise from nutrient deficiencies, yet are not age-related diseases.

I want to apply triage theory to any disorder (including, in this series, pregnancy-related disorders) and to all nutrients, not just vitamins and minerals.

Macronutrient Triage

Triage theory has already been applied frequently on our blog and in our book, though not by name. It works for macronutrients as well as it does for micronutrients.

Protein, for instance, is preferentially lost during fasting from a few locations – the liver, kidneys, and intestine. The liver loses up to 40 percent of its proteins in a matter of days on a protein-deficient diet. [4] [5] This preserves protein in the heart and muscle, which are needed for the urgent task of acquiring new food.

Protein loss can significantly impair the function of these organs and increase the risk of disease. Chris Masterjohn has noted that in rats given a low dose of aflatoxin daily, after six months all rats on a 20 percent protein diet were still alive, but half the rats on a 5 percent protein diet had died. [6] On the low-protein diet, rats lacked sufficient liver function to cope with the toxin.

Similarly, carbohydrates are triaged. On very low-carb diets, blood glucose levels are maintained so that neurons, which need a sufficient concentration gradient if they are to import glucose, may receive normal amounts of glucose. This has misled many writers in the low-carb community into thinking that the body cannot face a glucose deficiency; but the point of our “Zero-Carb Dangers” series was that glucose is subject to triage and, while blood glucose levels and brain utilization may not be diminished at all on a zero-carb diet, other glucose-dependent functions are radically suppressed. This is why it is common for low-carb dieters to experience dry eyes and dry mouth, or low T3 thyroid hormone levels.

One “zero-carb danger” which I haven’t blogged about, but have long expected to eventually be proven to occur, is a heightened risk of connective tissue injury. Carbohydrate is an essential ingredient of extracellular matrix and constitutes approximately 5% to 10% of tendons and ligaments. One might expect that tendon and ligament maintenance would be among the functions put off when carbohydrates are unavailable, as it takes months for these tissues to degrade. If carbohydrates were unavailable for a month or two, there would be little risk of connective tissue injury. Since carbohydrate deprivation was probably a transient phenomenon in our evolutionary environment, except in extreme environments like the Arctic, it would have been evolutionarily safe to deprive tendons and ligaments of glucose in order to conserve glucose for the brain.

Recently, Kobe Bryant suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon about six months after adopting a low-carb Paleo diet. It could be coincidence – or it could be that he wasn’t eating enough carbohydrate to meet his body’s needs, and carbohydrate triage inhibited tendon maintenance.

Triage Theory and Pregnancy-Related Disorders

I think triage theory may helpfully illuminate the effects of nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy. When a mother and her developing baby are subject to nutritional deficiencies, how does evolution partition scarce resources?

Nutritional deficiencies are extremely common during pregnancy. For example, anemia develops during 33.8% of all pregnancies in the United States, 28% of women are still anemic after birth [source].

It’s likely that widespread nutritional deficiencies impair health to some degree in most pregnant women.

Those who have read our book know that we think malnutrition is a frequent cause of obesity and diabetes. Basically, we eat to obtain every needed nutrient; if the diet is unbalanced, then we may need an excess of fatty acids and glucose before we have met our nutritional needs. This energy excess can, in the right circumstances, lead to obesity and diabetes.

But obesity and diabetes are common features of modern pregnancy. Statistics:

  • 5.7% of pregnant American women develop gestational diabetes. [source]
  • 48% of pregnant American women experience a weight gain during pregnancy of more than about 35 pounds. [source]

I take the high prevalence of these conditions as evidence that pregnant women are generally malnourished and the need for micronutrition stimulates appetite, causing women to gain weight and/or develop gestational diabetes.

Another common health problem of pregnancy is high blood pressure: 6.7% of pregnant American women develop high blood pressure [source]. This is another health condition which can be promoted by malnourishment.

It’s likely that nutritional deficiencies were also common during Paleolithic pregnancies. If so, there would have been strong selection for mechanisms to partition scarce nutrients to their most important uses in both developing baby and mother.

A Look Ahead


  1. Nutritional deficiencies are widespread during modern pregnancies.
  2. They probably lead to measurable health impairments and weight gain in many pregnant women.
  3. The specific health impairments that arise in pregnant women or their babies are probably determined by which nutrients are most deficient, and by evolutionary triage which directs nutrients toward their most important functions and systematically starves other functions.
  4. Due to variations in how triage is programmed, deficiency of a nutrient during pregnancy may present with somewhat different symptoms than deficiency during another period of life.

This series will try to understand the effects of some common nutritional deficiencies of pregnancy. Triage theory may prove to be a useful tool for understanding those effects. Based on the incidence of possibly nutrition-related disorders like excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes, and hypertension, it looks like there may be room for significant improvements to diets during pregnancy.

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