Robb Wolf: The Science Behind Healthy Diet & Fitness

Since Chris and I will be presenting live at the Grange in Sebastopol, CA this Wednesday night at 7pm with Robb Wolf, we thought a re-visitation of our earlier podcast with Robb was in order.

For those unfamiliar with Robb, he was involved with the development of two immensely successful movements: the Paleo diet and the CrossFit fitness regime. He's a true leading expert in the field of functional health and has been a long-time member of Peak Prosperity. We're thrilled he is making himself available to join us this Wednesday.

This podcast gives a good introduction to Robb's principal warning that the modern mainstream lifestyle has drifted concerningly far from the one our physiology evolved for. On average, we are too sedentary. Our diet is much too full of foods that we aren't designed to eat. The combination of these two factors is literally killing us.

But Robb's overall message is a positive one: there's a pretty clear path for those looking to pursue better health. Pretty much anyone can do it (Chris and I both did), and it doesn't cost a lot of money nor make you feel miserably deprived of life's joys. In fact, you'll look, feel, and actually be much better.

Tickets for the event can still be purchased, and those looking for details on how to do so can find them by clicking here.

We hope to see you this Wednesday!

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Followed the link to the website.  Signed up for newsletter.  Never found "big giant red button".  Have I suddenly gone color blind?

With climate change the pace of desertification is speeding up. The work of the Savory Institute is so vital.You might also check out the work of wes jackson and perennial polyculture /carbon sequestration farming.

For a website which prides itself on cutting through the hype and getting to the facts, they have really missed the mark on promoting the Paleo diet. This diet promotes the consumption of saturated fat which has been demonstrated to raise bad cholesterol and increase cardiovascular risk. Meat industry observational studies (low quality) do not demonstrate that saturated fat increases your risk for heart disease, this is contradictory to controlled studies. Although one may lose weight on a Paloe diet, no surprise given the avoidance of most carbs, it plants the seed for long term heart disease. See for up to date information on the latest studies by an MD. The website is funded by non profits and cuts through the BS in main stream media on diet. I was paleo at one point, what is not to love about the diet but unfortunately much like the Atkins diet, it's not a long term healthy option. 

You lack a fundamental understanding about the Paleo diet. You are projecting your views of what you perceive the diet to be instead of reading the literature and listening to Robb Wolf. I probably sound like some crazed Paleo diet freak, but I assure you I am not. Here's where you are wrong:

  1. The paleo diet is not a low carbohydrate diet. You can eat as many carbohydrates as you want provided they do not contain acellular carbohydrates.  Evidence shows that increased consumption of acellular carbohydrates increase inflammation, which, if you are familiar with medicine, is the basis for most chronic disease processes.

  2. The paleo diet limits your intake of grain-fed conventional meats. This doesnt get enough attention as you have shown. The problem with grain-fed meats is that they are exceptionally high in Omega-6 fatty acids and deficient in Omega-3s. Historically, the Omega-3:Omega-6 ratio was around 1:3. Nowadays, it's about 1:30 or higher. The problem with this again is that Omega-6s are proinflammatory fats and you want to limit your inflammation as much as possible to decrease the odds that you develop chronic disease.

  3. The hyperpalatability of food plays a major role in obesity. Food engineers have their grubby little fingers into anything that you buy at the store that comes out of a box or out of a package. Ever see that potato chip commercial that says "bet you can't eat just one", exactly. They literally add sugar, fat, and salt in proper ratios to make the food addictive. But, all in moderation they say.

  4. The nature of acellular carbohydrates in themselves promote an inflammatory environment in the gut. I know I said this in number one above, but it's an important distinction to make. There is evidence showing that gluten exposure can cause intestinal permeability, which, proceeds many autoimmune disorders. It works like this. You eat something that pokes holes in your gut lining and now bigger molecules can get through - animal proteins, etc. Your body sees these animal proteins as 'non-self' and develops antibodies to them. However, these animal proteins look a lot like your proteins, and you can get cross reactivity from those same antibodies with your proteins - joints, nerves, etc.

  5. LDL-C by itself is a poor predictor of cardiovascular health. That's why we measure HDL, fractionated LDL particle size, LDL-P - your LDL particle number. We can do cardiac CT scans to look at your calcified plaque burden (BTW those only cost $69 at my local  hospital - talk about a deal if you want to know how much calcified plaque you have in your arteries), etc. 

  6. As for your claim that consuming cholesterol raises your risk for heart disease, you'll be happy to know the government official retracted those guidelines in February of this year.

  7. I wish you all the best in pursuit of long-term health and happiness, but you are completely off base with your critique of the Paleo Diet. I suggest you take some time to read a few books and educate yourself about the true nature of the diet and how it can improve your health. I will provide you a list of books if you are interested. 


If you are worried about cholesterol, take some diatomaceous earth. I have never met a person taking DE without it lowering their cholesterol.

What a thoughtful, well referenced post.  Thank you for the mechanistic depth in your explanation about gluten, which I have avoided completely now for over two years, to the dramatic benefit of my joint health.  As outlined in the book, "wheat belly" there exist a constellation of autoimmune problems that folks can recover from by pulling wheat from their diets… and while wheat is not the answer for everyone… it sure makes sense to try going wheat-free and paleo before taking the various medications modern pharma would have you take in order to cover up the symptoms.  Were there to be a TV commercial for going wheat free and paleo, the lawyers would not force a rapid recitation of the potential side effects that could befall the patient undergoing the regimen.   
Here's someone who is seeing (autoimmune) psoriasis get better through being wheat and mostly grain free;

Thanks, Lambertad, for that explanation.
I am of particular interest in the 'grain-fed meat' issue and thought you might have more to share on this.

This is important to me at this time as I am 'homesteading" in an effort to be more resilient as well as more healthy. I had some inkling that grain fed meat was an issue but wondered how serious.

We raise lambs, goats and rabbit for meat (all grass fed), but buy beef and chicken which are most likely completely grain fed. Also, our hogs are fed commercial feed which is all grain.

Do you have any reference material that can answer questions like:

Can the ill effects of grain fed meat be offset by the intake of Omega 3's? 

What percentage of grain intake makes an animal 'grain fed'? Even permaculturalist Joel Salatin, who advocates pastured poultry, must feed his chickens some grain.

I've heard that the spent grain from beer-making is not harmful as all the carbs and Omega 6 issues are concentrated in the beer, leaving the grain void of these things, which makes this by-product an excellent animal feed. Any thoughts? 



For me, there are several big issues I have with grain-fed meat. First, they are raised in "concentrated animal feeding operations", basically devoid of grass, clean air, and pasture. I know not everyone can afford to pay the price of grass-fed meat, but I respect animals for the nutrition that they provide me and I would rather not eat meat than to subject animals to an inhumane life. Second, grain is not their natural diet. They pump them full of steroids and antibiotics to get them to market as quick as possible. If they didn't fatten them up and get them to market fast, they would literally die from the diet they are fed. Cows eat grass, hay, clover, etc. not corn, soybeans, oats, unless that's all they have. Third, about 60% of the antibiotics (ABX)used in this country are used for animals. This is an enormous problem on top of how the administer the ABX. When you go to the doctor for a bacterial illness (not viral like the common cold) and your doctor gives you ABX, he is giving you a dose and duration that is meant to kill the organism and then you stop taking them. When they give these ABX to animals, them give them prophylactically, meaning there is nothing wrong with the animal but they want to prevent disease. The doses are lower, and are put directly into the feed. This type of dosing is literally what you would want to do if you wanted to CAUSE antibiotic resistance to increase. It's freaking insanity. Lastly is the the nutrient profile - omega3 vs. omega6. Much closer to 1:1 is what we want, but 2:1, 3:1, 5:1 isn't that bad compared to conventional beef. 

There are a lot of reasons to get away from grainfed meat. I personally grew up on a beef cattle farm in Pennsylvania and will never eat grainfed meat. I currently live in salt lake city, UT and get my grass-fed beef from the farmer's market by the pound. Last year we ordered a 1/4 cow and just keep it in the deep freezer. We get all of our eggs locally from a free-range farm, but I'm sure they're supplemented with grain, there really isn't an option. Again, the thing for me is what kind of life did the animal have, and what was it's main source of food - grass, insects, bugs, and of course a little grain. 

As for what percentage of the diet must grass to make a difference in the nutrient profile of the meat, I'm not so sure. I found this article for you, but unfortunately I don't have time to read it (I've got an infectious disease final exam tomorrow). I will take a look at it after my exam so maybe I can respond again tomorrow. 

The question of the ill effects of grainfed meat being offset by taking Omega3s is an important one. I would first ask why you would want to do that and not just eat grassfed meat? Particularly, when you look at the DHA and EPA concentrations in most Omega3 supplements, they often contain a lot of filler. The more EPA and DHA the better. The problem is the good supplements - Carlson's fish oil, Nordic Naturals, etc. are pretty expensive. You're probably looking at $30-40/month to supplement with EPA and DHA to make up for the lack of Omega3s. I'm not up on the current recommendations by alternative providers like Robb Wolf, but I would not listen to what the mainstream dietetic community tells you as far as recommended Omega3 intake. If you search his website ( and dig into his articles he has some pretty good articles on Omega3s and Omega6s. Another good resource is Actually, just in a brief search of his website he says increased omega3s isn't enough, you also need to cut down on omega6s ( 

I apologize if some of this is jumbled, I'm trying to write this quick so I can get back to studying. Anyway, there are 3 resources I use when looking at nutrition recommendations. First, Second, Chris Kresser's website ( Lastly, I like Dr. Peter Attia's website at He literally has the best serious of blogs on cholesterol I have ever seen - ( I'm grad school now as a physician assistant, but some of Peter's blogs are a must read for the lay person and medical providers so that we don't get caught up in all the hoopla presented in the media. 

I'll try to take some more time and get some better answers for you tomorrow or by the end of next week, but keep up the search for some good grassfed sources of meat. Also, if you have a homestead (not sure the size), think about getting some calves and raising them yourself. If you're anywhere near Salt Lake City, I would consider buying 1/4 to a 1/2 a cow from you in the spring!


I wish you the best with regards to your health as well.
I'm no doctor but I do follow several, some which have been practicing medicine for over 40 years. The guidance I've received regarding the optimal diet has changed my approach to health. I was working with a functional medicine practitioner (MD with additional certification) who had me following a version of the Paleo diet (I've also read Robb book on the subject) so I'm reasonably familiar with the diet.

I'm in total agreement with regards to points #1-#5 but the Paloe diet is not the only approach to dealing with those issues. Some individuals may see improvement in their health on the diet since it is a big improvement on the SAD (standard American diet) but recently I've questioned the long term benefit of the diet.

I recently spent 3 weeks at a clinic in California on an autoimmune issue that I've been working on for two years without improvement using various approaches including a very restrictive autoimmune paleo diet per based on my doctors approach. I finally made some progress this year after spending time at a clinic in September and it totally changed my approach towards health. The doctors at the clinic have over 40 years of experience practicing medicine and use observational studies to support their view. The scientific consensus appears to be that saturated fat does indeed promote heart disease but I'll leave you research that on your own. Also, I recently read a good book which studied the long lived pockets of populations in the world and their diets are very revealing as to what should be the basis of our diet.

A friend of mine is a former NASA scientist (Ray Cronise) and will be putting out a new book on the subject soon (yes, everyone is selling something), he's dug into the research going back to early 1800's, time and time the research pointed to the consumption of animal products as the basis of most disease.

I've been in your camp and have since changed 180 degrees. Good luck on your search for the optimal diet for you as it's not an easy road to find the truth these days.


Thanks for explaining the science behind health, diet and fitness in a wonderful way.