FastPaleo Book Review: \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link\”

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Motivations for “going paleo” vary – the desire to feel good, perform better, have a beautiful body. But none is more convincing than dire necessity, namely, to escape death from Ulcerative Colitis.

This was Adam Farrah\’s reason for going paleo, which he describes in the preface to his new book \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link.\”  What resonated most beautifully with me about this book is Adam\’s search for common ground in what we conceive  of as \”a healthy diet.\”

Too often the paleo \”movement\” fails in its desire for perceived exclusivity from both the mainstream and other diets, but \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link\” begins by searching for and finding common ground among the body of dieting literature. He concludes: \”There are solid, unchanging principles that make up a diet that is healthy for humans…We need to look at the 90-95% that healthy diets have in common and not obsess about the few percent that one group or author says is good and another says is bad or the million other trivial arguments going on in the diet world.\”

Using these principles as a base, Adam urges people to create diets taking into account their own digestive tolerances and preferences: \”Building a good healthy, successful diet is really about choosing foundational principles, creating an individualized basic diet around those principles and collecting techniques and methods that help you do the basic diet day after day, month after month and year after year.\”

The reason \”paleo\” happens to make up the majority of these foundational principles is that it includes the most foods that are healthy, and excludes the most foods that aren\’t. Another particularly helpful and unique part of the book is Adam\’s categorization of foods in terms of paleo: 1) The Foundational Paleo Diet Foods 2) Food of Early Agriculture 3) Paleo Foods to Use Sparingly 4) Supplements and 5) Modern Foods to be Avoided.

These categories give readers a framework to understand which foods they should and shouldn\’t be eating and why. Adam then uses them to show readers that the paleo diet can be flexible. Based on this understanding of the principles of healthy food and why foods are and aren\’t \”paleo,\” the latter half of the book helps readers create individualized diets and meals. Instead of preaching dogma, Adam presents reasonable grounding principles and allows for personal customization. This flexibility — the great contribution of this book — will help readers be consistent, and consistency will lead to success.

Other interesting topics include Adam\’s take on dairy, explanations of cortisol\’s role in the body, and the effects of caffeine.

One area I did take slight issue with was the section on food measuring and calorie calculation. While Adam does offer the caveat: \”going from a standard crap diet to Paleo is going to be a major step forward and at that point it’s probably better NOT to weigh and measure because eliminating all the grains and conventional foods and carbs will be difficult enough\” he believes it is mandatory to weigh and measure food for fat loss or performance.

My feeling, which I would hope he would agree on, is that any kind of diet documentation should not be inconvenient to the point of being a deterrent to eating healthy. In my case — and I compete in a sport with weight classes, muay thai — between buying and preparing healthy foods and training 10 hours a week, documenting my diet would simply take away from what is making me most healthy and competitive. Put simply, I just don\’t have time. That being said, I am also not a very meticulous person and don\’t like recording things in general. If you feel you can eat right and exercise AND document your diet, by all means do so, but don\’t put the cart before the horse.

All in all I can say I have never read a more accepting and open approach to the subject of paleo eating. With 70% of the population overweight, we need to do all we can to make paleo accessible, not the purview of a nutrition nerd club, and \”The Paleo Dieter\’s Missing Link\” is a perfect example of this philosophy of common ground and openness.

~James Gregory




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    Comments (7)

    1. posted by Adam Farrah on April 20, 2011

      James, thanks SO much for the great review!

      It seems like you got out of the book EXACTLY what I wanted a reader to get – the individualization and foundational principles! That makes me happy!

      On the calorie counting thing, if you’re getting results without doing it, that’s what counts. I included that chapter because I worked with enough people who were SO FAR off (one way or another) on daily calories and meal composition that I felt I needed to talk about it in a formulaic way to get some readers on track. Personally, I DON’T weigh or measure my foods often, but I know what I’m eating and where things are for the most part.

      You’ve obviously got a handle on your body, eating and training so weighing and measuring is a waste. AND, you’re getting results! But, the person who eats 20 bananas and can of tuna every day and calls it “Paleo” needs some formula to follow.

      Thanks again for the great review, man!


    2. posted by The Shirtless Chef on April 20, 2011

      Hi Adam!

      It was truly my pleasure!

      I really appreciate the approach you take, open-minded in the true sense of the word. The paleo community needs more voices like this. We have so much good to share.

      Looking forward to more great stuff from you!


    3. posted by Paula B on May 22, 2011


      As does the person who eats beef, bacon and eggs but won’t touch a green vegetable.

      I’ve noticed quite a few “paleo/Zone” advocates…paleo for the quality and type of food, and Zone guidelines for quantities. This is probably why that combo works well.

    4. posted by Paula B on May 22, 2011

      Sorry, I meant to quote Adam’s 20 bananas and a can of tuna in my post.

    5. posted by Kathy on August 24, 2011

      New to IPad – can I download the book as an ebook and how do I do it. Not on Amazon.


    6. posted by Kristin Jekielek on August 24, 2011

      Hi Kathy! The book is only sold on Adam’s page. Follow the link at the bottom of the article to purchase. It is currently only available as a PDF eBook, so it should be perfect for your iPad.

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