My Ancestral Health Symposium talk on Weight Loss

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  1. This is excellent. Of course I watched it at 11 PM.

  2. Do you recommend a source for red/night lights?

  3. Wonderful, so happy they are working this year (and surprised by how quickly)!

  4. Three Pipe Problem

    This is a wonderful presentation, which I imagine many readers/viewers who are not even particularly interested in obesity will feel is worth watching.

    The explanation of the origins of normal vs. log-normal distributions was beautiful and completely new to me… this is a potentially general principal and I really appreciated learning it.

    The idea that obesity has many interacting, “compounding” causes seems particularly useful… most individual approaches are generally expected to have diminishing returns anyhow, but with this model it seems to me that making small to moderate changes in a variety of areas could be more effective than trying to make big changes in just one area.

  5. Ah, but how does one do that and work for a living at the same time? It is not my problem as much now that I am retired, but….

  6. Dear Paul, could you please make your slides available. Thanks!

  7. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the wonderful talk. I was hesitant to watch since most talks contain only very basic and generally known information, but the comments persuaded me. I’m glad I did. The normal log distribution and its analogy with obesity and the dice rolls was very cleverly thought out.

    One question though: You mention you keep a strict 12 hour day and 12 hour night window. Darkness is essentially a stressor, and long days (such as in summer) are generally correlated with better health and well-feeling. So I wonder, does keeping a longer day (e.g. 14 hours) and shorter night period have therapeutic benefits in the stressful lives we have?

  8. Paul, I really enjoyed your presentation, and thought the introduction of the concept of the lognormal distribution was a very interesting and compelling idea. And I think we need to get the “Implications of a lognormal distribution” slide very widely distributed!

    That said, from my perspective the first two of your factors are key. From 3 onwards, it becomes a lot more fuzzy, doesn’t it? I know your first questioner asked about environmental toxins. For me, it’s sociocultural changes, e.g., of the sort that Bruce Alexander writes about ref his Rat Park studies.

    Interestingly, your PHD retreats clearly address this by providing a more healthy environment: less stress, more community support, strong social ties, etc.

    I sure would love to see more discussion in ancestral communities of this topic!

  9. Paul,
    Excellent presentation. Very interesting explanations. I believe everything that you present as critical to optimum health and mirroring our ancestors diets and lifestyles, and I’m striving to achieve this. But one thing that confuses me about circadian entrainment is the concept of a 12 hour day and night. I live in California. Depending on the time of year, some days are longer than 12 hours and some are shorter. In the far north, like Alaska, etc, they have very few dark hours in summer and few light hours in winter. If my ancestors were equatorial, then the 12/12 would seem more natural to me. I ask this because I personally seem to need less sleep in the summer and more in the winter, as if the seasons are telling my body to adjust to the darkness levels naturally, which makes sense to me since I’m of European descent, in the approximate same latitude as where I live in CA. Please explain.

  10. Hi Paul,

    Terrific talk!

    Off topic but, I am wondering if you and Shou Ching have any good book recommendations for those curious about traditional chinese medicine.

    Thanks so much for what you all do!

  11. I found this absolutely fascinating! Love the perspectives. Thanks so much.

  12. Dr. Jaminet do you still consider that food toxins, including vegetable oils play a causal role in obesity? And do you still consider that the hypothetical lean mass set point is relevant?

    I also wonder if you have any thoughts on the relevance of thryoid function to obesity in boosting metabolism as it pertains to Ray peat’s work on the subject, thanks.

  13. Hello Paul,

    I just watched your Ancestral Health Symposium talk and was fascinated by your circadian rhythms’ comments.

    Could you please expand on your comment about having social interactions in the daytime;

    Does this mean that we should avoid socializing with people at night? and if we are in a permanent relationship(i.e. having a spouse or a girlfriend),should we minimize our communication/interaction with that person during the night hours?

    Thank you

    • I don’t think you would need to minimize communication with your spouse, you just need to avoid going out at night and having over-stimulating social interactions or group social interactions at night. On an evolutionary level we still would have had contact with loved ones and spouses at night time but left the more stimulating and convivial social interactions to the day time.

    • Hi Angelo,

      I would say that all stressful social interactions and interactions with strangers should be in the daytime. Calm, relaxing interactions with loved ones are appropriate for night time. No need to avoid your girlfriend at night!

  14. Hi, Paul! I shared your talk with my brother out in Seattle. As his background is economics and finance, I knew he would appreciate your analysis. Plus, he and his wife have been mostly following PHD for about a year. Here is what he said:
    “I really enjoyed Paul’s talk. I find the evidence on obesogenic factors
    quite compelling, particularly the lognormal distribution. It’s intuitive
    to me that the physiology is consistent but the input factors have changed,
    and that there are multiple factors and not a single simple answer. As an
    aside I think that’s true for things other than obesity, such as
    posture/skeletal health. We spend so much time sitting/slouching compared
    to our ancestral selves (cars, classrooms, offices) that it’s difficult to
    maintain a healthy shape. I agree that Paul’s data is unique among diets,
    which makes sense in that weight loss is a happy by-product, not the primary
    goal, of PHD. I look forward to continuing to learn more, and consistently
    practicing a healthier diet.”

  15. Any TCM book recs?

    Tom Bisio’s A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth seems popular on amazon. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


  16. Hi Paul and Shou-Ching~
    My husband and I had purchased your book a few months ago, and I had been reading your blog for awhile. We have fully implemented the PHD way of eating and it has been about three months now. It has made a big difference for us both, in improved health and weight. I have had no more heart palpitations, and my leg cramps have subsided. (and i lost 4 lbs) The reason I am writing is that I had my blood work done, and wanted to share the results and letter from my doctor’s office. When I first read the letter regarding the results, I was like “WHAT?” and my husband said, “Relax, re- read chapter 41 ( of PHD) on blood lipids”, so I did, and I feel so much happier now!! But, check out the letter I received from the health care provider…nothings changed in the world of doctors yet!
    8/19/2014 4:42 PM PDT
    Your most recent lipid tests have been reviewed. The results of your cholesterols are:
    Total cholesterol (ideal is under 200): CHOL 219 08/14/2014
    Triglycerides (normal is under 150): TRIG 57 08/14/2014
    HDL (good chol., goal is above 40): HDL 87 08/14/2014
    LDL (bad chol, goal is under 130): LDL CALC 121 08/14/2014
    If you have had heart disease, stroke, or diabetes, your LDL goal needs to be less than 100.
    Your HDL is good, but LDL could be better.
    Therefore, following a low cholesterol diet is strongly recommended for you. You can get more information and diet handout by attending our low cholesterol lifestyle class by calling xxxxxxxxxx Please reduce refined sugary and fatty food intake such as cake, donut, etc. to reduce triglycerides. Omega -3 over the counter can also help to reduce your Triglycerides.
    Please also stay as physically active as possible to increase your good cholesterol HDL. Walking 20-30 minutes 5 days per week is also strongly recommended for you if not already doing so.
    Please repeat your cholesterol test in 1 year.
    Ok, (I am 63, 5’2″ female, weigh 124) my triglycerides lower??? Really?? Do they read these things?? Over the counter Omega 3?? Do they read anything that came out after 1972????
    My husband and I have both had significant improvement on your Perfect Health Diet and were low carb before so enjoyed the addition of the safe starches. Thank you for such a great, great book!! Especially now that my readings are well within the ranges as stated in Chapter 41!!! Thanks again!! You are changing lives and saving lives!!
    Best always,

  17. You’ve indicated that some food (vegetables,bone broth,coconut oil,vinegar) are ok during fasting periods. Does this include nighttime?

    By the way–great video.

  18. Great talk Paul!

  19. Hi Paul,

    What about vitamin K2 as being absent from obese people? I thought that was right up there with vitamin C, magnesium and all the rest.

  20. Hi Paul,

    I found the talk very interesting because it touched so many aspects of our lifestyles, not just diet.

    I especially noticed what you said about cravings and that’s what my question is about. I’m 5’9” weighing 132.5 with body fat around 9%. I strength train 3-4x/week. I have a real craving for fat, salt and sour and bitter foods. I have no desire to eat junk/candy/pastry/cake or the like. What do you make of my cravings?



    • I think you may be undereating and are probably too lean. I would try eating more fat, salt, fruits and vegetables, and fermented foods.

      • Thanks Paul,

        I’m trying to eat more but I find it difficult. My energy levels are generally poor so I guess it makes sense to eat more.
        I’m already eating 1-1.5lbs of vegetables and fermented foods almost daily.

  21. This is excellent Paul. Keep posting for healthy lifestyle.

  22. Dear Paul,
    Your talk was AMAZING!!!
    I also love getting older links to your site–articles from say 2010 and 2011. There are so many gems hidden all through the crypts here. I could spend hours every day wading through this knowledge forest.
    You and Shou-Ching are such treasures.


  23. Paul, this was a spectacular presentation. I was most intrigued by your statistical analysis to determine that obesity is polyfactorial, something I think most of us know intuitively but wasn’t able to demonstrate methodically. I always look forward to learning from your posts and talks. Thanks Paul.

  24. Reader Reports - Perfect Health Diet | Perfect Health Diet - pingback on September 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm
  25. Hi Paul,

    It was great to have the opportunity to meet and talk to you at AHS 14, and thanks for taking my question about first and second sleep in a 12-12 hour light-dark cycle.

    There seems to be some evidence that skipping dinner may be more advantageous than skipping breakfast. If, as you suggest, we should concentrate the bulk of our calories prior to 3 PM, then what about an eating window in which one simply doesn’t eat past 3 PM?

    I’m not hungry as soon as I wake, and it takes an hour or two for me to work up an appetite; however, I find that skipping breakfast altogether is difficult psychologically, but that skipping dinner is relatively easy. Moreover, skipping dinner seems to have benefits for my sleep, mood, energy levels, circadian rhythms and weight regulation, benefits which I don’t seem to experience when I skip breakfast.



    • Hi Euthyphro, Yes, I think that’s quite fine and might be superior. If it fits your schedule then do it.

      • According to a piece in History Magazine, Sherrie McMillan writes that, during the middle ages, lunch (i.e., “dinner”) was eaten between 12-1 PM and was the largest meal. Breakfast was also eaten. Supper appears to have been the lightest meal and was eaten between 4-6 PM, always before sunset.

        If the science suggests that we should concentrate the bulk of our calories between 12 PM – 3 PM and fast for 16 hours a day, then this, together with the above historical information, might suggest that an eating window from 8 AM – 4 PM, in which lunch is eaten around noon and is the largest meal, might be a plausible approach from the standpoint of natural history.

        • My belief is that the best eating window starts 3 hours after dawn and ends 1 hour before dusk. If that was 6 am to 6 pm in the middle ages, that would be 9 am to 5 pm. Nowadays, most people start and end their “day” earlier, and rely on artificial lighting. In our home, it’s 8 am to 8 pm. So for me, 11 am to 7 pm would be optimal. I actually do something like 1 pm to 7 pm but it often slips toward 8 pm in the evening.

          • Thanks for adding this clarification! That’s very interesting. So, on, e.g., an equatorial sun schedule (6:30 AM – 6:30 PM) the optimal window would be 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Lunch would be at 1:30 PM and would be the largest meal. Breakfast would be at 9:30 AM and supper at 5 PM.

            I include lunch at 1:30 PM since we are trying to concentrate most of our calories between 12 PM – 3 PM, and 1:30 PM is equidistant between the two endpoints of the eating window, and, historically, lunch seems to be the most important meal, at least during the middle ages.

            (‘Dinner’ derives from the French ‘desjeuner’, which means “to break the fast”, and the definition of ‘dinner’ in English is “the main meal of the day”; and, according to historians of the Middle Ages, dinner was eaten around noon.—So, whether we skip supper or skip breakfast or compress three meals into an eight hour window, the historical record seems to suggest that getting most of our calories during the afternoon would be the traditional thing to do.)

          • Hi Paul,

            Don’t you ever have problems with feeling full and it being difficult to eat all of your calories within that window? How do you make sure that you eat enough?

          • If you are worried about getting enough calories, perhaps you could adapt the Ancient Greek model, of four meals a day, to accord with the recommendations and concepts of the Perfect Health Diet.

            So, on a equatorial sun cycle,
            breakfast is at 9:30 AM,
            lunch is at 12 PM,
            “lunch-dinner” is at 3 PM,
            dinner is at 5 PM.

        • The Ancient Greeks may have eaten four meals a day: breakfast immediately upon rising, lunch, an afternoon snack, and supper, which was the primary meal, eaten prior to sunset.

          According to Denise Winterman, for the Romans, by contrast, lunch was the the only meal of the day. And for much of Western Civilization, lunch remained the most important meal, both culturally and practically; however, at some point, during the Middle Ages, we added a late breakfast (always after morning mass); and during the early modern period, the custom was adopted of having a light supper, eaten prior to sunset.

          If we ask, “Which eating schedule was correlated with the highest form of philosophy and culture?”, I think most of us would point to the Ancient Greek practice. 🙂

  26. Thanks. I’m glad to know that.

  27. Paul,

    Why do you now recommend no fats during the 16 hr fasting window?

  28. The more I read about traditional diets in Western Civilization, the more I am inclined to think that the operative pattern (for Greeks, Romans and Christians throughout the Middle Ages) is three meals a day within the confines of sunrise to sunset. Prior to the advent of the light bulb, it seems that during most of the history of Western Civilization, we were eating a morning meal, an afternoon meal and an evening meal; sometimes the largest meal was the afternoon meal, and sometimes it was the evening meal; the largest meal was never eaten in the morning; however, it seems as though the morning meal was rarely skipped altogether. If I were to speculate about an average eating window, in a 12-12 hour sun-cycle, I would guess that 10 hours was common. For, we were eating a light meal in the morning not too long after we woke, perhaps an hour and a half (if morning mass lasts an hour?); we then ate lunch and had our last meal around sunset. So, it seems that an eating window of 8 AM – 6 PM would have been common throughout much of the history of Western Civilization.

    • An eight-hour eating window, I would speculate, would be something that would be more likely to occur in the winter (in Europe), when there are fewer daylight hours, e.g., when the sun rises at 7 AM and sets at 5 PM. But when there is more light available, e.g., from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM, it seems as though we would be inclined to use it.

  29. Paul if you have time have you a view on Denise Mingers talk at AHS regarding very low fat diets ?
    thanks marcus

  30. Paul,

    I am just learning the PHD diet and have ordered the book. I was curious about your thoughts on the Dr. Seth’s Shangri LA approach. I tried taking 3 tblsp ELOO very early in AM and then MCT oil in coffee. I think it helped with late evening cravings for sweet but only see weight loss if I exercise in addition. I am trying to lose about 10 pounds – more importantly as a Cardiologist trying to learn what is best for patients. Most are insulin resistant and need to lose weight. Obviously, not happy with ACC (American College of Cardiology) recommendations. My advantage is I see patients frequently and can monitor their Laboratory data closely. I think I have technically asked you 2-3 questions – but the Shangri- LA question evokes particular curiosity.


  31. I love this. Really specific, actionable advice and not the same old rehashed ideas you find everywhere. Thank you!

    P.S. When’s the revised PHD book coming out with an extensive section on weight loss? 😉

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