The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link is a practical pursuit of health–whether to boost athletic performance or recover from chronic illness–using an individualized diet and lifestyle that shrugs off universal black and white rules. Using Paleo as a foundation from which to build upon and putting his humor, intelligence, and straight-talk to good use, author Adam Farrah aims to show you how to figure out what foods you tolerate best (even if that includes non-Paleo ones) and how to avoid the foods you don’t tolerate in a way that is sustainable, stress-free, and free of diet dogma.
Despite its deepest wish to stand apart from the crowd, Paleo has frequently been lumped in with fad and weight-loss diets. Adam begins The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link by explaining the history of ancestral diets and the modern Paleo movement (noting that if Paleo is a fad diet, it’s the oldest fad around!), comparing and contrasting diets like Weston A. Price (WAPF), Specific Carbohydrate (SCD), vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, Atkins, Zone, gluten-free, and Paleo. Adam’s comparisons don’t give credence to the idea that Paleo is just another fad or weight-loss diet, and they don’t argue that one diet is far and away better than the rest. Instead, he finds common ground (like an emphasis on high-quality food, consumption of vegetables, or a lower-carb approach) between all of these diets to illustrate that “healthy diets” have more in common than not. Adam chooses Paleo as his foundation because it includes the most healthy foods and excludes the least, but his book isn’t about learning to eat Paleo–it’s about personalizing the Paleo foundations to suit your needs.
But don’t take Adam’s flexibility as a blank check to eat whatever you want. Adam differentiates between foods of “early agriculture”, like raw dairy and sprouted grains, and modern foods like skim milk, whey protein, and white bread. He provides an overview of the different types of dairy and grains and explains the pros and cons of each, again emphasizing the importance of figuring out what works best for you. If you aren’t gluten or dairy intolerant and don’t have any health issues, Adam isn’t about to begrudge you the occasional sandwich with sprouted bread and a glass of raw milk if the alternative is to break down completely and wind up eating much less ideal foods at McDonald’s. He takes a similar stance on caffeine and alcohol, arguing that no consumption is best, but consumption of the best-quality is okay on occasion if you tolerate it well and find it makes the diet more sustainable for you. Speaking of food quality, Adam also provides resources for finding the best-quality foods in your area and how to differentiate between high-, moderate-, and low-quality foods at the grocery store.
Unlike most Paleo authors, as a former bodybuilder, Adam embraces the benefits of “weighing and measuring” for those who haven’t seen success on Paleo or are training a lot and may need to be more aware of their macronutrient intake. Adam explains how to find the ideal ratio of carbs to fats to proteins for your body and your goals, and emphasizes that this is a baseline to adhere to loosely, not an absolute to obsess over achieving. He provides examples of what a day’s meals might look like and shares advice for tracking your intake and analyzing your results on sites like Nutrition Data. There is also a section on the potential benefits and how-to of intermittent fasting and when to eat or train, with the caveat that the appropriate time to eat meals is very individualized. Cortisol levels and circadian rhythm play a large role in appetite, and not eating can affect them either negatively or positively depending on your unique health.
In the final section, Adam emphasizes the importance of straightening out your lifestyle as well as your diet with the theme “set your own standards, do what you love and create a life you actually want to live.” Sounds wonderful, right? But we all know that life has a way of making “living simpler” really complicated. Adam discusses all the ways modern life puts stress on our health (whether we know it or not) and provides tips on reducing or eliminating stress (whether that means dropping activities or people that consistently stress you out, finding new work or hobbies you love and find relaxing, or giving yourself permission to “disconnect” for a few hours or days). Adam explores the very zen (and very Paleo) benefits of “quiet mind, active body” along with quality rest and real food and shares how to form new habits, get moving, developing a healthier sleep schedule, and wraps up The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link with advice for staying focused and setting yourself up for success.
The Paleo Dieter’s Missing Link encourages you to think critically about your diet and lifestyle, and what you have been told about diet and lifestyle in the past. Adam not only did his research, but possesses the easygoing charisma to make it all accessible and entertaining. His inquisitive and sometimes irreverent nature is catching, and he provides plenty of food for thought as well as resources for further reading to satisfy the craving for intelligent and individualized discussions of what it really means to eat Paleo and be healthy in the modern world. This will be the first book I lend to friends and family wanting a practical, thorough, and critical take on diet and lifestyle!