So, I know a number of friends on Paleo who recommend it. I recently read through a lot of bulletproofexec, who recommends his own variant of paleo. I care about my health, and so I need to resolve my diet and their advice somehow. Summarized data points:
- My diet is about 80% wheat, and the rest is sweet potatoes, exotic grains (like amaranth or quinoa), rice, margarine, honey, cheese, and meat. The primary principle of paleo is that Grains Are Bad, and accepting that premise would require a radical restructuring of my diet. Right now I bake a loaf or two of (sourdough) bread a day, eat pasta about every other day, eat at least some raw sweet potato a day, eat cereal every other day, boil quinoa and rice every now and then, and eat meat only when I go out with friends.
- I strongly prefer wheat to rice, and rice to corn (also, white wheat to whole wheat). I enjoy the bread I bake enough to eat until I physically can't store more food in my stomach. When I bake bread with 75% wheat and 25% amaranth, it tastes noticeably worse (which I can tell because I eat what I cut and don't try to eat it all).
- I am rarely sick (maybe something on the level of a sore throat once a year), and I've been intelligent and lively my entire life, and have been on a meat-heavier version of this diet (less bread, more pasta, more chicken) until recently.
- To the best of my knowledge, I do not experience meat cravings. I chewed ice growing up (which suggests an iron deficiency), but this habit mostly stopped a few years ago. I have craved fat once or twice in the last year, which I responded to by whipping up and eating a batch of cookie dough. Most of my friends on paleo experience bread/grain cravings about once a week, though my friend on a slow carb diet (which allows him to eat bread once a week) doesn't.
- I'm 6'0" tall and weigh 160 lbs (182 cm / 73 kg) for a BMI of 21.7, which is the exact middle of the "normal" range. I have a sedentary lifestyle with no regular exercise besides walking (which has been reduced to about once a week thanks to summer), and thus am not as muscular as I would like. I used to weigh about 180 lbs, and a change in diet (from eating out frequently to eating in frequently, the replacement of meat with bread, and a general reduction in portion size) dropped that down to 160 lbs with no exercise. A brief experiment with creatine supplementation and high-intensity exercise ended well, and so I plan to resume that soon.
- I have a poor sense of smell and thus am not good at telling foods apart; I have a preference for simpler foods and can't tell a difference between chicken and steak. I'm also pretty xenophobic when it comes to food, but have gotten better at experimenting with new tastes.
- I get warm fuzzies from eating little meat (for resource conservation reasons) and from eating cheaply (my grocery bills come out to about $3 a day and I eat out 1-2 times a month), but I imagine those would be outweighed by small health / intelligence boosts.
- My lactase production disappeared about age 20, but I respond well to lactase pills.
- Bulletproofexec and one of my friends on paleo both have wheat allergies.
I find the logic behind paleo questionable. Yes, hunter-gatherers are adapted to a different diet, but fire was first used to cook food 2 million years ago, and appears widespread by 100 kiloyears (ky) ago, with noticeable adaptations in humans (from smaller teeth to resistance to air pollution). Lactose tolerance demonstrates the ability of human biology to adapt to new diets. Civilization dramatically speeds up evolution- it probably took about 25ky for European hunter-gatherers (and later farmers) to go from a mean IQ of 85 to 100, and about 1ky for urban European Jews to go from a mean IQ of 100 to 115. Am I really supposed to believe that there aren't genes floating around that wheat (domesticated 10ky ago) is good for?
My interpretation of this data is that my current diet works well for me, and paleo is unlikely to work better. I am willing to experiment, though- if I will actually live better on a different diet, there is little holding me back besides a lack of information. My values, in descending order of importance, are: brain function, overall health, appearance, mood, and cost. (Note that those are weights- something can improve brain function but be so costly in dollars, prep time, and terrible taste that I'm not interested.)
So my question for you is: Should I try paleo (more likely, the bulletproof diet)? If I do, what data should I collect? Better yet, what data can I collect now to determine if I have any nutritional deficiencies?